Many would see January as the gloomiest month. After the months of build up to the Christmas season, January can leave us feeling quite flat. The most depressing day of the year is supposedly in January, known in recent years as ‘Blue Monday’. The sun sets at 5 o’clock most days, the trees are bare and we are suffering from the winter chill.
Quite a few people at this time of year can be suffering from SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder), which can affect people’s sleep patterns and energy levels and leave them feeling depressed, hopeless, worthless or guilty. One in fifteen adults in Ireland will suffer from SAD, with December, January and February being the worst months. For those suffering with SAD, or even for those who aren’t, light can sometimes be the best medicine of all. Something as simple as a few hours’ extra sunlight or seeing the world flooded with sunshine can banish old woes. In these times, it is good to remember that ‘Darkness is to space what silence is to sound; i.e., the interval’ (Marshall McLuhan). There is a Dutch proverb that goes ‘darkness and night are the mothers of thought’. This can be a time to go inward and reflect; to embrace the darkness as a way to gain a perspective on what really matters to us.
January and the new year are times for reflecting on what we want from the coming year, things to change about our lives and the steps we feel we must take in order to correct what we feel is going wrong. That is why many people make New Year’s resolutions; what is wrong and how can I fix it? When it is dark it can feel like a lot is going wrong in our lives, but ‘it is only when it is dark that we can see the stars’ (Martin Luther King). Because while we can feel that there is a lot that we expect from the new year, it is important to take stock of everything you have going into it. Light and new horizons are both on the way for us all in 2018 but for now, while it is dark (and it is a darkness that will pass), take time to embrace it, to reflect inwardly and to count your stars.
Significant days: Martin Luther King (15 January); St Anthony (17 January)
READ: A time to take stock – Sr Stan and/or A Winter’s Cloak – Joyce Rupp
LISTEN: Beautiful Boy by John Lennon
CONSIDER: Check out the website for Mental Health Ireland