DIARY OF A DEMENTED HOME WORKER: Keeping things real this January

January 16th, 2022 6:25 PM

By Emma Connolly

It’s normal to feel a bit down in the dumps at this time of the year but take some of my advice and January will be hoot. A bit of a hoot, anyway. At least some of the time.

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It’s week 97 and with Blue Monday looming large in the calendar, here are some of my typically down to earth suggestions on how to get, and keep, a good grip on yourself

• NEXT Monday has been declared as Blue Monday – officially the bluest day of the year. Era, it’s a load of old twoddle really but sure it’s handy enough to be able to blame your foul mood on something. And there’s still two more Mondays in the month to get through after that – five in total. Mother of God! Whose idea was that? Anyway in a bid to make Mondays less mournful, and to cheer up all the other days in between this month, I’ve compiled a few tips to lift the mood. I’ve taken it for granted that we’re all up to speed on the tried and tested (and soul-crushingly boring) things like drinking more water, getting fresh air, taking deep breaths and going for walks so my suggestions are a bit more well, basic for you to try, at your own risk of course ….

• Let’s start with this one – take to the bed for a day. Yes, one whole day.  If you’re not already self-isolating and possibly doing this anyway, take on the persona of a Victorian woman who needs lots of bed rest, can’t tolerate day light, and who won’t be receiving any visitors for 24 hours. Key to this being a success is to stock up on lots of treats in advance to binge on (multiple bags of toxic crisps like Monster Munch, a 2L bottle of Sprite, a whole Netflix season, face masks and those booties that promise to make your feet look less like hooves, that don’t really work, but still feel really nice). By bedtime you’ll probably feel a bit delirious (and properly sick from all the crisps), but at least you’ll be grateful to rejoin civilisation (and won’t want to see a crisp until March). For the rest of the month do the exact opposite and try to get up half an hour before the rest of the house. The early bird gets a head start on the day and all the rest (or at least gets to scroll Insta and have the first coffee in peace).

• Next, stay in touch with reality and finally accept that the chances of you winning the Lotto and starting a new life in St Barts are slim (slimmer than you were when you got married). You’ve a far better chance of winning your local GAA lotto so support that instead and at least you’ll feel like you’re doing something good for your community.

• Now that we’ve that sorted, and sort of on a similar theme, stop fantasising about jacking in your 9/5 job and becoming a travel blogger (vlogger?). I know you read that article about that person who handed in their notice and is living the dream making millions doing exactly this (I read it too), but I definitely wouldn’t chance it until you’ve got the mortgage paid. And put the kids through college (where they’ll probably taunt you by studying vlogging). Book a holiday instead and get a grip on yourself.

• Without getting too abstract, realise you can’t control people, but you can control your reactions to them. The simple fact is that there are always going to be very annoying people in this world who will drive you to distraction. And somehow they seem even more irritating than usual in January, probably because you’ve stopped day drinking (if you haven’t yet, it’s time). Make a conscious choice not to blow up/freak out every time you encounter such a person/situation and you’ll start to feel a whole lot better. Repeat after me: ‘I’m a lover, not a fighter.’

• Oh yes, here’s a good one. Do something new. Mix things up. Experts say the novelty of doing something new has far-reaching benefits for your mental health and it’s true. It doesn’t have to be anything extreme like sky diving either, or Zumba dancing (shudder). It could be zip-lining though. Why should kids get all the fun? Or it might be something simpler like turning right, when you always turn left at a certain junction to see where the road less travelled takes; choosing a different beach or wood for your walk; eating dinner at the table instead of the kitchen island or changing your handbag for one you haven’t used in ages. Go on you mad thing!

• I tend to roll my eyes a bit when I hear people talking about self-care. Lighting a candle and having a bath? I’m going to need more than that, sorry. But how about trying to be a little more selfish instead? Yes please.  Start suiting yourself a bit more and see how good it feels. Obviously there’s a few non-negotiables like going to work (stop day dreaming about being a vlogger!), making the dinner and doing the school runs but for example if you really don’t feel like meeting someone – just say no! Hmmm, right now I can’t think of anything else you could legitimately say no to, as an adult, without being irresponsible or just a bit weird but there’s bound to be others if you think hard enough.

• Of course a really obvious one that most of us don’t do enough of, is to laugh. Not just a chuckle, or a polite giggle, but proper, uncontrollable skitting. The kind you used to do regularly in school, usually during a school mass. Something really completely random set me off the other night, I can’t remember what it was (well I can, but for legal reasons I better not share!), but I laughed for around three minutes solid and I felt lighter (emotionally, not physically unfortunately), even if my husband looked really alarmed. Find something to set you off. Dancing with the Stars maybe? Or YouTube clips of people falling over. They’re always gas. And sure if all that fails, there’s a bit of a stretch coming already (another walk anyone?) so the brighter days are coming, and in the meantime why not give Wordle a whirl? Look it up. You’re welcome.

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