Did you struggle to get through January? We asked top yoga teacher, Lizzie Reumont, for her words of wisdom on beating the blues – at any time of year.
Lizzie Reumont writes…
Well, well. Here we are, the close of January, writing about ‘the blues’. Sound a little cliché? In some sense, it is. After all, it’s the middle of winter, and there is something normal and necessary about wanting to spend the day (or five) under a duvet waiting for spring to arrive. We might call that hibernation.
On the other hand, we have all watched the days getting shorter through November, and on December 21 there was an audible collective sigh of relief with the knowledge that the worst was behind us…but was it?
As we forged ahead into the holiday season with enough pseudo-enthusiasm and vigour to keep Santa and all his reindeers afloat, January 15th rolled around and we were told, ‘keep your head up, it’s normal to feel blue on Blue Monday!’ A second deep collective exhale, and here we are.
So, what happens after the post holiday dip, after Blue Monday, when we still feel blue? Will we ever get our mojo back?
Identifying the problem
In order to change a depressed state of mind, it is as important to understand where it comes from as finding a solution. One of the primary challenges with depression is that it is spoken of as something separate from ourself.
Usually when we speak about war, it is to get rid of something…think, War on Drugs, War on Terror…War on Cancer. ‘Combatting the Blues’ implies that there is something to eradicate, to remove, and therein lies a part of the problem.
As much as you might want to feel happy and carefree (and the sooner the better), when you’ve got the blues it just ain’t that easy. Sure, we could take some measures to temporarily pull ourselves out of a dark mental space.
Hibernating with a good movie, making an effort to see close friends, attending a yoga class or seeking out some other form of self care can be an positive step.
It’s important to acknowledge though, that these are usually stop-gap measures that will not necessarily ‘fix’ the blues long term.
Perhaps a more relevant step to a lasting change is to stop perceiving the ‘blues’ (or any other state of mind) as being separate from our self.
When we create a space for reflection and self-awareness, we begin a path of acknowledgement that we have many aspects to our personality. This includes a shadow side that may like to linger a little longer in the darkness than necessary from time to time. Sometimes this mirrors the seasons with a deflation in energy and general down-tempo during the winter months, but it is not always the case. We live in a world rife with uncertainty and expectation, so in truth, the blues can hit any of us at any time we choose to read the paper or linger too long on the sunny side of social media.
Solutions to being in this ‘blue’ state of mind come in as many forms as there are shades of blue.
It could be that taking time out to reconnect with something that brings a renewed sense of purpose is enough to trigger a change. A date with a friend, enrolling in a course or starting a new project like reading a book, can be a good escape from the mental pulls of a depression.
Pausing our usage of social media can be a good practice in times when we seek meaning and tangible interconnectedness. Changing the environment can be another way to find a different perspective. Whether it is a day trip or a longer holiday, a different atmosphere often brings a renewed sense of presence, energy and purpose.
I am personally a fan of tough-love for myself. Despite feeling seasonally affected by the grey weather, when I set my intention and my alarm early enough to ‘force’ myself to the pool for a morning swim, my whole day feels just a little bit brighter despite the biting first romp into the water.
It’s an understatement to say that we are all different and have different needs, so one of the most important aspects of changing the shade of blue is to tune in to the present moment, get a sense of where you are, and to understand your unique needs.
Are you going through a little dip in energy that can be remedied with some self-care, or is it time to seek an outside opinion? If you notice over several weeks that you aren’t feeling any better despite your best efforts to seek out different coping mechanisms, it may be time to get professional help.
Sometimes our hormones can be out of balance, or we might have a blind spot for a behavioural pattern that needs to be addressed. My advice is not to leave mental health issues unaddressed for too long. Take off the boxing gloves, tune in, and be patient and loving with yourself.
And remember…Easter is just round the corner!
>>Find a yoga class to lift your spirits in our Move Into Happiness section>>
>>Or jump straight to Lizzie’s Jivamukti Flow For Joy>>
This post was written by Lizzie Reumont. Lizzie’s style of yoga is inspired by a variety of internationally renowned teachers and methods, however, she found a home in the Jivamukti Yoga method which she has been teaching since 2007. Classes are infused with a diverse and well-curated music collection, and her attention rests in alignment and breath awareness. Hands-on, intelligent adjustments are a unique aspect of Lizzie’s classes which are intended to enable the practitioner to better understand the energetics and key structures involved in various postures. Visit Lizzie’s site at www.freeliz.com.