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July 11, 2020

How I Learned to deal with the Dreaded Monday Blues—The Stoic Way.

 

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Managing my feelings of anger during the COVID-19 lockdown has been a huge challenge.

My presence of mind has been shaky. I feel like I’ve lost a sense of normality, routine, and contact with myself.

On top of that, there is something we all experience as we inch toward a Monday morning. The lockdown and the situation outside means my family stays at home, husband works in a room, and my older boy gets into his lockdown virtual classroom with equal panache. I have a good routine around all of this, usually.

However, I don’t quite like the panic that sets in, sometime around early Sunday evening. There is a rush to collect thoughts, give the big bad Monday ahead a demonic stature, and suck the hell out of what’s left of a pleasant Sunday sunset. I feel that arguably my most productive moments are on a weekend when we are all together as a family.

So, I wanted to write this for myself.

I feel if Monday had the ability to speak to me, it would hold me lovingly by my shoulders and say this:

“When you woke up today, I saw that face. You looked pretty, like you look on any other day. Still loving and “flawsome.” Like everyone else. Glasses on your eyes, you don’t need those lenses to impress me. Take it easy. Unruly hair. Thoughtful smile. A smile to die for. If you ask me, you are enough. Like this. With all that you have done, keep doing what you need to do. Your desire to make it to today makes everything worth it. Laugh aloud, for all you know, someone else out there is hoping you will be kind to them. Strutting out of the door, breathe well, keep that charming smile on, maybe you don’t feel like it. But today, like any other day, just relax, be polite and kind to all that comes your way.”

It was strange. Like a face-in-the-mirror illusion. I looked at my own reflection and recognised myself between those lines.

And again, my reflection spoke to me:

“I know we don’t see each other often, but there’s something I want you to know. I’m not sure when is the right time to tell you, so I’m telling you this right here. You must know, whenever you worry, that worry comes knocking on everyone’s door. How will you deal with it, today?”

Goodness, the relief as I write this. Let me tell you how stoicism fits here.

I used to be anxious as a young girl going to school on Mondays, perhaps every day. I used to feel f*cked up at the thought of starting my day, not knowing which way it would go. The anxiety would give me heartburn and a diarrhoea feeling—unbearable and embarrassing.

This continued for years. I privately expected my days to be freighted with potential dangers. My sense of self-consciousness when it came to attending parties or meeting strangers was laughable. I used to be in a cold sweat and tempted to decline most offers.

I figured, during all those times, that I needed to do something dramatic. Not so I can attend these parties, but to be able to kill that anxiety. However, reading about stoicism has helped me tremendously. I have much to thank all the lovely books I have read, and all the cultures I have visited through thousands of pages. An understanding of people, their lives, the said, and the unsaid. I relish reading about cultures. It helped me look at life from a nonjudgemental perspective.

I struggle still, but I like the knowledge of the paradox I entertain. I engage with panic, doubts, and negative thinking—I screw up my beloved Sunday evenings. I assume scenarios, and through clichéd actions, I ruin my Monday mornings even more.

My best Mondays have been when I haven’t given it much thought.

And if I could say with complete truthfulness, several hours spent by myself, merely sitting in a quiet room, having no set agenda, not getting lured by a chance to run away from my thoughts, spending decent time staring out of the window, and not having anything pressing to do to impress anyone, has helped me over time to relax and generate thoughts. This spares me the inexplicable confusion, rage, and panic of Monday morning.

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