The January blahs
January can be a depressing month. It’s cold, the days are short, it’s the season for colds and the flu. The anticipation and celebration of the holidays are often followed by an emotional let down. This year we have the added anxiety of the COVID-19 pandemic. The January blahs may be largely psychological but there is scientific evidence that lack of sunlight can cause an hormonal imbalance which diminishes our energy and physical well being. So what can we do about it?
The standard practices for a healthy life are certainly necessary: eat right, exercise and get sufficient sleep. Here are some further suggestions to chase the January blahs.
First, do something for yourself. This is not selfishness but developing a better person to serve others. Tackle a project you have long delayed. Read that good book you promised yourself. Devote time to your neglected hobby. Get together with friends. Join an exercise program, maybe even a diet!
Then do something for someone else. Self absorption is always a downer. Visit a homebound friend; help grandma with her household chores; volunteer for community or church activities.
And most elevating of all, take time to meditate. Finding a few minutes each day for quiet reflection is beneficial for everyone regardless of your faith perspective. Yet many find it difficult to be faithful to this practice. The demands of our work and our activist mentality can make sitting quietly seem like a waste of time. Actually, a few reflective moments can be the most useful and profitable time of your day. A good carpenter always takes time to sharpen the saw.
Find a private space at home that is free of distractions, a place conducive to reflection, a little chapel of your own. When you are driving by your favorite church, drop in and sit or kneel quietly for a few minutes. The pause that refreshes.
People of faith find inspiration in the scriptures. Perhaps you would like to understand passages from the Bible but just don't know where to begin. Here is a practical suggestion. If you have one of the popular Amazon Echo devices just say, “Alexa, today's Catholic readings,” and Alexa will read to you the scriptures from the Mass of the day. The selections are all from scripture and applicable regardless of your denomination. You can do the same with Siri, but it will be the text not the audio.
We Capuchin friars offer a brief daily inspirational video on YouTube entitled, “Good Morning Good People.“ You might find it a helpful way to begin your day.
The January blahs can diminish peace and joy. The noted paleontologist Teilhard de Chardin said, “Joy is the infallible sign of the presence of God.“ It works both ways. Living in the presence of God brings joy. Take time to meditate ten minutes each day. “Be still, and know that I am God.“ (Ps 46:10)
Fr. Earl Meyer, St. Fidelis Friary in Victoria, is a regular contributor to The Hays Daily News and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.