This week I cannot stop thinking about cycles. Not the one or two tire variety, or even the menstrual variety (for she is a fairly predictable cycle). Instead, I reflect on how often events come in cycles, repeating themselves over, once again. The discussion about the pending inauguration and the legacy of President Obama’s tenure demonstrate how cycles abound. For instance, the economy is fascinating to watch as it pertains to a business cycle with a peak and a trough. Emotions are similar to the economy in that what goes up -must come down. Sure, there are natural and unnatural ways to modify how high the highs go and how low the bottoms go, but at some point there will be a change. Expansion in the economy signifies growth and upward trends, and as the New Year starts I’m hit with the opposite, I’m experiencing the January Blues.
In economic terms I’m facing my own contractionary trend which signifies a slight dip or the beginnings of an emotional recession. For me, January typically starts with optimism and energy. I set new goals, I start a new semester with my students, and off we go. But by the middle of the month, right around Martin Luther King Jr. Day weekend, I’m usually facing the January Blues. Living in Texas, this isn’t necessarily weather related. We’ve had weird weather this year, but nothing that would cause seasonal sadness. Instead, this is when I look back at the past year and rather than celebrate the accomplishments, like I did at the end of December, I analyze what didn’t change.
What didn’t change in my life, that I hoped to change, will eventually fuel me for the remainder of the year. Soon, the cycle will trend upward and I will find that charge to fast forward on my goals and ambitions of 2017. For instance, last year, upon noticing that my belly didn’t leave in 2015, I modified my diet starting with a juice cleanse around this time of the new year. Now, similarly, I face a Whole30 nutrition/fitness challenge to change my ways as we begin the year- a whole 365-day opportunity! The events are similar because cycles trend in a familiar fashion.
Seasons were a known cycle in my life living in the North. I measured accomplishments seasonally, and anticipated the change the next season could bring. Living in the South, reminds me that seasons don’t mean the same. The January Blues are shorter; I don’t wait for a groundhog to tell me that winter is over. Instead, I push through a few slow weeks in January and the season hasn’t changed but my outlook will. Pairs of months now replace seasonal units on my calendar and change happens regardless of the whims or the cycles of weather.
Relationships, dating, fitness, and work trend cyclically for me, as well. For instance, the holidays are packed with family time, and starting in January I prefer to be alone again regrouping and gaining energy in solitude. Dating is another area that faces an ebb and flow throughout the year. (Okay, honestly, dating may resemble more of flat-line trend than I care to admit, but that can change with the right person!) My point? The more we look closely at key areas of our life we can acknowledge trends to gain understanding and potentially alter their path. When I noticed my January Blues I didn’t think the world was ending. Instead, I continue to push through and find joy in moments of this temporary cycle.
A recession is defined as downward activity across the economy that persists for a number of months. The January Blues are not leading to my next emotional recession, but to my next peak. To think that every experience, every day, and every season will be like the apex of a roller coaster ride, fails to meet normal life expectations. With normal expectations of my emotional cycles comes steady expansion and change. Growth is near folks, for I’m forecasting more ups than downs for all of us in 2017! Yet, I encourage all of you to track your own cycles (not just periods) and lets see what growth results from your own data and actions. Now come on, February! Hurry up already January, and be gone.