It can be difficult to define the reason for the blues, but there are things we can do to help ourselves explains Jessica McGregor Johnson
At times, we all get a touch of the blues. That underlying feeling that something is off. Everything can feel fine when you went to bed but the next day you feel low, blue and cranky. That can play out with you snapping at the first person you come across – usually your partner if you have one, or a work colleague if they’re unlucky! If we were to look at the situation from a witnessing standpoint, there would be no specific thing that created these blues – they just seem to descend.
Or do they?
The blues seem to descend for a few reasons – but there is always, I promise you, a reason. The problem is that it can be hard to define that reason whilst stuck in the blues. However, we can either sink slowly into the quagmire and have a “black hole” kind of a day, or we can do something about it. You see the one thing we have absolute control over, even if it does not feel like it, is our attitude – how we approach any situation.
There a few things you can do to help.
The first thing is to distract yourself. I have tried in the past to look at what is making me feel blue when I am deep in it, and that never seems to work. I just get more frustrated with myself – “I should know better” runs around my head and I end up making myself feel even worse. I spiral down into it even more deeply.
So now I have learnt that in fact I need to just simply look elsewhere. Some days it may be watching my favourite DVD, or getting immersed in a work project so I feel like I’ve achieved something, or making that phone call I’ve been putting off, or helping a colleague. Other days it takes me going for a walk, or calling a friend and seeing if I can help them in any way (not chatting about your blues!). Or cooking something, or writing. It does not matter what your distraction is as long as you do it.
The reason for the distraction is that you need to stop thinking about it. Thinking about feeling blue just makes you feel even worse. You build it up in your mind and before you know it your life is awful, it is over, nothing will ever be good again! We are hard-wired to notice and focus on what’s bad in life. It’s a survival thing – in the old days when we had to watch for sabre tooth tigers, noticing what was good didn’t keep us from being eaten! However, we can override that hard-wiring and choose differently. The mind is fickle – give it something interesting and it will shift focus quickly; rather like a shiny object to a magpie.
By distracting the mind, you stop churning over and over and start thinking about something else. This may work quickly, or it might take a while, but at some point you realise that you are no longer caught up in the blues. Life, and your focus, has moved on.
Now you can do step two and look at it. This is the time you can, if you want, explore what you were feeling. As soon as you are no longer in its grip you can safely explore it.
Why bother you may ask? The blues are a symptom of something out of balance in your life, something not quite right. If you take the time to ask yourself what was going on, why was I feeling like that, then you can address it and move on. By seeing the reality of the situation you can, more often than not, see a way through – and that can feel good.
If you don’t explore it, it will just come up again in some way. Life has a habit of repeating things we need to address, until we address them – hence the feeling of Groundhog Day sometimes.
These little incidents are for us to learn, and see, and understand ourselves better. That’s what the journey called life is all about. It is simply about where we put our focus. What we put our attention on grows stronger. Choose to put yours on things that will uplift you. That’s one way to beat the blues.