January 18: Let’s Acknowledge “Blue Monday”

I love to paint with the color blue.

Half my box of acrylic paints are shades of blue. Because most of the paintings in my classroom are ocean scenes, one of the most important decisions I make when I begin a new canvas is picking a tone:

  • Robin’s Egg for a hopeful early morning
  • Cerulean Blue for a deep and pensive sea
  • Indigo as an anchor
  • Turquoise for whimsy and fun

Our lives are colored by tone each day. Sometimes we are the deciding factor in that tone, and sometimes the tone comes up unexpectedly and sweeps us away like a wave along the shore.

And even for the strongest of swimmers, that wave can feel like a tsunami.

It used to be taboo to talk about mental health, better off suffering a broken ankle than to struggle with anxiety, because at least you could talk about the broken ankle. But thanks to brave men and women who started telling their stories, talking about strong emotions is no longer off limits. Their testimony speaks to the fact that it is okay to not be okay.

Depression and anxiety don’t discriminate based on wealth (JK Rowling) or fame (Ryan Reynolds), strength (Dwayne Johnson) or talent (Lady Gaga). In fact, the NIH estimates that one out of every four people struggles with their mental health each year. There is treatment. There is help. You are not alone.

Pixar’s movie Inside Out personified five major emotions, and for the majority of the movie, Sadness was the killjoy, the Debbie Downer of the group. But in the last minutes of the movie, Joy, and the audience, come to the realization that all emotions, even uncomfortable ones like sadness, are interconnected, serve a purpose, and deserve to be acknowledged. Although anxiety and depression are not emotions, the character of Sadness serves as a reminder that these struggles don’t have to define us but that they can serve as a catalyst, a jumping off point, for something better.

I firmly believe that our purpose in life is to show others that they do not walk alone. So if you’ve experienced these struggles yourself, find the strength to share them. If you haven’t, find the strength to listen. Being present is a present.

“Don’t walk in front of me…I may not follow.

Don’t walk behind me…I may not lead.

Just walk beside me and be my friend.

–Novelist Albert Camus

Blue doesn’t have to be a sad color.

being mindful of our own feelings and emotions! Check out these mindfulness activities.

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