The day was typical of winter days in East Tennessee, but not as cold as some we have had this winter. It was a wet, overcast, and rainy day. A friend raised the question, “How do you chase away the January blues?” Her question was certainly a fair one for such a foul day. Yet, I did not have a ready answer. Certainly I had felt the blueness of the day, but had not yet happened upon a remedy.
What does one do about the blues? If, in fact, the blues are all that we are talking about and not something more serious, then what are our options? Of course, these are not ordinary blues, but January blues. They are made more complicated by cold wet weather that puts some limits on what can be done to chase them away.
A conversation with a friend I have not talked to in a while is a good blues beater. Recalling and remembering times we have spent together, things we have done together, and challenges we have faced together, has a way of renewing one’s energy and brightening one’s outlook. Perhaps the way that chatting with an old friend is most helpful in chasing away the blues is that it reminds us that we are not stuck in this cold, overcast and rainy day all by ourselves.
Finding a way to do some vigorous exercise is also a good remedy for the blues. Granted, it is not one that I choose often enough. I am pretty sure that something happens to the body during exercise that just causes you to feel better. There is something that results from exercise that is more than merely feeling good about having done something good for your body. Strenuous exercise is said to cause the body to release endorphins which produce a feeling of well-being. At any rate, I almost always feel less blue after a good run.
Books are another way that I confront the blues. Reading a good a story may or may not get rid of the blues, but it will definitely provide an interruption. If it is a good enough interruption, then it just might chase them away. Reading engages the imagination, and the imagination is still the place where we are able to create the most vivid of images. Reading enables us to create images which are perhaps not quite so blue.
A fourth course of action does not involve chasing the blues away so much as it does confronting them or considering them. The blues have a way of cracking open the doors behind which we keep our hidden failures, mistakes, and shortcomings. They have a way of waking up old hurts and disappointments for which we thought we had finished grieving long ago. Perhaps instead of chasing the blues away we should listen to them, because they could well be speaking to an issue in our lives that needs some attention. By rushing the blues away we might miss an opportunity to listen to our lives and hear again the good and the bad of our living — the pleasant and the painful. We might fail to notice a loss that still needs grieving, a wound that still needs care, a mistake that still needs forgiving, or an offense that still requires reconciliation.
Chase them away or listen to them; either way, spring is coming.