Thursday, 2 February 2012

Time to banish the blues

January's always a bit of a bummer, isn’t it? 
If you don’t believe me, just take a look at Facebook, Twitter and the blogosphere over the past month. A veritable whine-fest of moaning, groaning and self-pity. Wintry weather, rheumy eyes, snuffly noses, the post-Christmas scar left on bank accounts, broken resolutions and general gloom dominate.

I’m as guilty as the next cyber Moaning Minny, having littered updates with complaints about the cold, money worries, loss of Mojo and general bleurgh. Though I promised myself I'd ease up on the blogging misery, half of January’s meager offering were my ‘snapshots of fear and uncertainty’ here in Greece. I don’t regret those posts, I wanted to try to give a portrait of what some of worst-off are going through - but I really do have to ease up on the downbeat stuff.

So, though February is arguably little better than January, I've decided to re-awaken my Inner Pollyana.

I’m not going to commit a classic Cosmo blunder and suggest you can bake your way out of depression (more likely to bake your way into a new and previously unexplored dress size, especially if you’re battling the charming weight gain side-effect of many anti-depressants). Sadly, depression is not such an easy beast to tame.

My visits from the ‘black dog’ are usually short-lived and rarely severe, but that doesn’t mean I can’t be a moody cow at times. I proudly claim my right to give in to it now and again. Just ask the Ovver Arf – he’ll vouch for the fact that I let the old boot out to play now and again (considering he can be the King of Moody Buggers, I make no apologies).

But now that February is here, I’m gonna make an effort to be annoyingly up-beat (if nothing else, it’s fun to annoy the misery-bugs it worms out of the woodwork).

There are many things that can help banish the perfectly normal blues that we are all subject to as a result of shifting circumstances, chaotic hormones and ballsed-up biorhythms. Self-medication – whether carbs, cigarettes or a nice glass of Shiraz - can help, at least until you next check your bank statement or step on the bathroom scalesBelow are a few of my own fail-safe ways to kick my inner moody cow back into her stable:

Chopping vegetables: 
The repetitive action has a strangely soothing effect on me ('Waddya mean, I’m a nuthouse? At least I don’t claim to ENJOY ironing!'). The saintly feeling that chopping veg for a nutritious family meal adds a smug note of super-healthy, local-economy friendly and environmentally-sound piety that makes me feels all empowered and Domestic Goddessy.

Making bread: 
More DG smugness, with the added bonus of having an outlet for all my frustrations during the kneading (some loaves looked in need of a visit to the local Casualty Department before hitting the hot oven).

Reality TV: 
When it’s bad, it’s great. Participants in Greek reality shows seem to have missed the point and are all at great pains to show just how 'nice' they are. All the bloody time. 
On the local version of “Come Dine With Me”, they all claim immediate chemistry and deep affection for one another from the very first time they sit down to eat, even though they look as at ease as a gaggle of middle-aged women in the gynaecologist’s waiting room office about to abandon their dignity for their over-due smear tests.
There’s always a good smattering of know-alls revealing themselves as utter imbeciles through their moronic proclamations. That gives grist for the mill of my acerbic side, prompting a running commentary of vitriol and bitchery that even gets the Ovver Arf giggling as he bashes away at he laptop.

Music, played inappropriately loud for a women in her late 40s: 
No need to explain this one. We’ve all startled innocent pedestrians by belting it out with Aretha as we pull up to the traffic lights, haven’t we? I once made a cyclist in skintight lycra shorts fall off his state-of-the-art bike. Yummy mummies (God! I hate that phrase) tend to glare disapprovingly at me, but little old ladies grin and give me a "You go girl!" wink (and no, I don't think their hearing aids have anything to do with that).

Cruising for comedy: 
As a Brit in Greece, I’m rather starved of British humour (believe me, outside of our Green and Pleasant Land, most folk just don’t get it). Quality stand-up is particularly missed. So surfing the funnies on YouTube can do wonders for my mood at the end of a rather ‘meh’ day.

My cyber-buddies: 
When times get tough, I have received as massive boost from people I’ve never met (and in all likelihood never will). We live worlds away from each other, and yet the wonder that is the web has created a wonderful cyber sisterhood (OK boys, brotherhood too) that can give me a lift on the bleakest of days. Their very anonymity frees me to say things I might never confide to my nearest and dearest for fear of consequences, hurting feelings or provoking anger. Just having that sounding board is a huge release when you just have to vent, and sometimes it bounces back with advice, support and – occasionally - real wisdom.

Life’s simple pleasures: 
Despite having more than his own share of demons to fight, dear old Ian Dury knew what he was talking about when he penned “Reason to be cheerful: Part 3”. Here’s my rather poor version, which appeared on my blog a few millennia ago:

    Freshly brewed Darjeeling,
    tanning without peeling,
    finding you appealing
    to touch.

    Spending pocket money, 

    hot crumpets with honey,
    feeling rather funny,
    and toast.

    Singing in the shower,
    turning up the power,
    the smell of a fresh flower
    in March. 

    Acting rather silly,
    gilding up the lily,
    laughing willy-nilly
    at jokes

    A bunch of yellow tulips, 
    a dash of mint julep,
    thinking about your lips
    to kiss.

Not exactly art, I know. But if nothing else, all the above - and many more - are great incentives to get out of bed and face the world every day. I hope that my sister and Ffynella The Fragrant (she know who she is) will share some of their reasons too, as they both have a talent for verse that I lack.

So, what do YOU do to banish the blues when miseryguts threatens to take over?


  1. I love chopping vegetabled too, but then I just like playing with knives Bwah haha, bwah hahahaha!

    Love that poem!

    Here's to the end of January blues!

  2. This post makes me want to know you much better. I thinks I like.

  3. I know what you mean about British humour. My son is a comedian. He is just back from America and has to adapt his act accordingly because irony is just not understood. Anyway, don't lose your sense of humour -- and keep chopping and kneading!

  4. While I'd love to pen a little rhyming ditty to respond to your fab poem, I doubt it'd be half as good!

    A couple of things that make me smile though are warm pyjamas straight off the radiator and warm towels on a chilly day - similar things and great in their own little ways.

  5. Loving your extra verses to Reasons to be Cheerful. Singing in the shower, definately one of my guilty pleasures. Mich x