The Myth of ‘Blue Monday’ (and how to take back the day!)

Mondays tend to get a bad rep, don’t they? In the same way we celebrate that ‘Friday feeling’, the Monday blues can sink in as early as Sunday as we shift back into our working week – if you don’t work weekends of course.

And apparently, the worse Monday of all is this one. The third Monday of the new year, or ‘Blue Monday’ as its been coined – the ‘most depressing’ day of the year.

Well, I’m here to say, don’t believe the hype. There is no reason to believe people are ‘blue-er’ today than any other day of the year.

I’ve read through many articles around Blue Monday and the corresponding research papers and, as expected, all the actual evidence points to nothing more than a media stunt by unimaginative PR folks. More than anything, it highlights the ability of the media to spin a story, have us believe it and ultimately try and sell us something.

Google even confirms it when you see ‘Blue Monday’ posts shared as a guise to sell us wish-list products, like holidays to get us dreaming of sun and sad on a wet January day.

As you can imagine, ‘Blue Monday’ floated into conversation around the office last week, with some annoyance that a so-called social media ‘awareness days’ can trivialise the experience of those struggling with their mental health so dismissively.

Suggesting that a particular day of the year is depressing because the weather is awful, the days are short and payday is still a week away can trivialise the illness.

Depression is a serious and diagnosable mental health problem, something that can affect people of all ages, genders and backgrounds. Unfortunately, many people will either delay or avoid seeking help due to stigma and misinformation – especially if they don’t feel their experience is valid.

Confused? Well, there is a different between being depressed and unhappy. Failing a test can be upsetting, missed the bus can be frustrating and when you have nothing to do, life can feel a bit boring. Sometimes when we find ourselves in these situations, we might say we’re depressed or that things feel depressing. Labelling short-term annoyance or passing feelings in this way can minimise what clinical depression really feels like for those who struggle on a daily basis.

Depression can be a risk factor to the development and/or maintenance of eating disorders. If you are struggling with your mental health, mood, anxiety or depression it is important you reach out to your GP and talk through how you’re feeling and how they can help.

Now, whilst we have now decided that Blue Monday is just the brain-child of a savvy marketer or PR firm, it can still have us feeling ‘blue’. For some of us it can feel like a self-fulfilling prophesy, when a belief can influence your behaviours and ultimately cause the belief to come true.

So how can we break that ‘blue’ feeling and take back control of our Mondays? Here are some top tips from our Specialist Support Officers:

  1. Journaling and Creative Expression

“Journaling is a great way to express any negative thoughts. Likewise, poetry or engaging in something creative like painting, drawing or doodling, can often help. Even if it doesn’t make sense, look perfect or sound great, the process of exploring thoughts and emotions in a creative way can be really beneficial.”

Zoe, Senior Specialist Support Officer

  1. Engage in some negative self-talk checks:

“Explore your thoughts and think about: Would I say this to a friend? How would I respond if someone else said this to me? Who is benefitting from me feeling this way? Is this thought supporting my goals and needs? How can I reframe this thought so it is more useful?”

Cleo, Senior Specialist Support Officer

  1. Embrace the outdoors

“Get outdoors, even if it’s January. You can engage in some mindfulness and focus on the present. Notice the sights and sounds of nature, as well as the people and things around you.”

Becca, Specialist Support Officer

“If you struggle with dark mornings, try taking five minutes to look at the sky during your lunch break with a cup of tea. See if you can find the first snowdrops coming through and remind yourself that outside can be quite pretty in January.”

Megan, Befriending Coordinator

  1. Practise positivity and gratitude

“Tap into your compassionate voice, and remind yourself to speak to yourself as kindly as you would speak to others. You could also keep a gratitude log. So, whilst January can be a bit bleak and meh, actually, what things are there to look forward to and what are you grateful for today?”

Naomi, Senior Specialist Support Officer

“Surround yourself with affirmation post-it notes and things like ‘I can handle today’ or specific thing that you like about yourself (your qualities, skills, talents and personality traits.)”

Rebecca, Specialist Support Office

  1. Set some goals for January, but be SMART.

SMART is a simple guide to goal setting to make sure they’re Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time-bound. Setting a small, achievable goal when things are feeling difficult and a bit monotone can get you back on the right track.

Have you got a deadline coming up but find yourself struggling to get started? It can feel daunting, but maybe you could get 20% done today? Or maybe you’re struggling with your mental health and you’re not sure how to get help, where to get help or what to do? You could set a goal to speak to someone this week and share how you’re feeling… And if that feels too big, write it down.

Setting these smaller tasks and goals, and then achieving the desired outcome can increase motivation and confidence in the task, giving you a spring in your step.

  1. Connect with people

We all have a preferred way of communicating. Some of us get what we need from a laugh in the office with a colleague, others enjoy a long and meaningful chat with a best friend and there are those that prefer a neat text or email exchange to check-in with the people in our lives. Whatever your communication style, these connections can be so important for our mental health, but they also make people happy!

You might acknowledge that you don’t always prioritise the relationships in your life, forgetting to text back or scheduling a time to meet. So, do it now. Send that text, plan that coffee or call that friend. You’ll brighten your day, and maybe even make theirs!

Contributed by Lucy Robinson

Fundraising, Marketing and Communications Lead