The reality about being a human is that sometimes we just feel a bit…bleh. We can feel sad for no reason or down without any idea why. We hit highs and lows and lows and highs and the further we get through life, the more we come to see that these ups and downs are all just part of how it goes.

Now, you’ve probably heard of something called Blue Monday. This Monday, usually the third Monday in January, is believed to be the saddest day of the year. Now, there’s no hard science behind this but it’s believed that some factors as to why this may be include:

  • A dopamine (the pleasure hormone) withdrawal when we stop eating the sugary treats we chomped on over Christmas. 😬

  • The cold, wet, gloomy weather (in the Northern Hemisphere) that many of us loathe but can't escape in January. 🥶

  • Pay-day was a long time ago and there’s still a way to go. 💰

  • Add the post-Christmas shopping and splurging debt onto that and you might be facing a financial nightmare. 😞

While that may all be a load of nonsense, the truth of the matter is that blue days are normal - whether a national myth or not. But for many people experiencing homelessness, the blues are not just an every-now-and-then kind of thing. In fact, often they’re an everyday reality that can be extremely difficult to manage. 

The reality of homelessness is a tough one and for many people who are experiencing it in some form or other, there is often little to no help when it comes to navigating how to get through it. While there are so many incredible charities out there who put in a lot of work to make sure the mental, emotional and physical needs of these vulnerable individuals are met, there are many who are not aware of or able to get to the services that exist to help them.

So, what can we do about it? For starters, it’s so important to have an empathy-driven mindset that allows us to look at those in need, not just as another stranger, but as another human being who, just like us, deserves love, care, compassion and kindness.

We can also be mindful that one interaction can change someone’s entire day. Have you ever come away from a conversation with someone and said, “Day made!” Sometimes for those experiencing homelessness, one conversation can mean the difference between a really bad day and one that’s okay. It’s important to remember that not everyone will stop to say hello and so your interaction with someone in need might be the only interaction they have that day, sometimes even that week. Don’t let people become invisible objects, give them the chance to be seen.

Another really easy thing we can do is simply think about what makes us feel good on a bad day. Is it a sweet treat? Buy one for someone in need. Is it your favourite take-away? Order for someone in need. Is it an encouragement from someone? Encourage someone in need. Is it simply a smile? Smile at someone in need. Whatever it is for you, replicate it for someone else. My friends and I love coffee - and when someone is having a bad day or a tough week, we love to send each other a surprise coffee. And even though that itself doesn’t solve the problem, it sure does make the day feel a bit brighter. So, take a moment and think about what you can do for someone that you’d love someone to do for you. A little bit of kindness goes a very long way.

Lastly, be kind. Give people a break. The truth about homelessness is that it is complex, it is messy, it is tough and it is different for everyone affected by it. There is so much more to homelessness than any news story or statistic could ever cover so don’t rely on the negative perceptions of it to paint the full picture for you. Give those in need the break they need. Most of the time they’re doing the best they can in a really tough situation - a situation we’re in no position to judge. So be kind to those you encounter, give them the respect you’d give to a colleague, show them the love you’d show to a friend, offer them the help you’d offer to family and, most importantly, treat them with the dignity each human being deserves.

It may be Blue Monday today and the blues may stay for those experiencing homelessness but, by working together, we can make a difference and paint our world with kindness, compassion, love and hope.

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