Blue Monday, apparently the most miserable day of the year. Yippee. But we’re wondering, is it science or a self-fulfilling prophecy that fates us into feeling blue?
Typically, Blue Monday falls on the third Monday in January, this year it’s the 17th - brace yourselves. An accumulation of feeling the financial pressure from Christmas, the weather is pretty bleak, we’re starting to fall off the New Year ‘reso’ wagons, and there’s not a huge amount to look forward to now the festivities have passed, and it’s back to work - woo!
Coined by a travel company (suspicious eh?) in 2005, it’s ‘calculated’ to be the most ‘depressing’ day of the year, based on; average temperature, daylight hours, days since the last payday, till next bank holiday, and the number of nights-in during the month. Now, when we look at it like that we might consider there to be some real truth behind it.
But this whole idea, it turns out, was actually a pre-written theory (based on no scientific evidence) put to academics as an opportunity to put their name to it - which many did not. And to top it off, by knowing when the most miserable day is, we can try to make things better, by say… booking a holiday? Shady.
Yet it trends on social media every year
Despite this controversial date, over 15 years on it still trends across social media every year. Maybe you’ve seen friends use the hashtag (on a photo of a coffee they get most days), relatives posting a status listing all the ways the day has gone wrong so far, an influencer or celeb endorsing the latest wellness product that we all know they’ve probably not actually used themselves.
But this popularity is mainly fuelled by the PR industry. They use the chance to push their products, for general wellbeing, fitness, self-improvement, happiness boosting tools even. Now, who doesn’t love a bath bomb or a new book, or trainers to get you back into running? Do we need a day that seems to be particularly miserable to buy those things? Probably not.
It’s not all bad though, in 2020 the Samaritans renamed it, “Brew Monday”. A day when connecting with others over a brew can help us to manage the rollercoaster that is life. Encouraging society to support, understand and break the stigma around mental health is more like what we need, less a day to remind us that January as a whole can be tough on everyone.
So, is it all a load of rubbish?
We’d say so, whatever you feel on a day; happy, anxious, low, frustrated, joyous, really isn’t a reflection of the date or whether it’s generally considered to be a miserable day. It’s true the post-Christmas winter months are challenging for many reasons, individual to each of us. Maybe having a day to pin all the blame on is useful, maybe it helps you to feel compassion for yourself and others around us. Or maybe it’s something you don’t really want to focus on, dwelling on the misery might just make you feel worse. Maybe it’s just not your vibe. Make what you will of it, if wallowing in a little pit for a day is what you need, do it. If getting out there, kicking blue Monday to the curb is best for you, do it.
Grace McMahon, Beingwell's Chief Life Coach, shares some tips to protect our wellbeing on blue Monday:
Be intentional with using social media
Keep an awareness of how you're using social media, and be intentional with what you look at. We know what we surround ourselves with and look at has a direct impact on how we feel. Don’t get sucked into feeling blue, and don’t get sucked into feeling you’re alone (whatever feels you end up with on the day).
Do something cosy and comfy
What makes you feel comfortable, settled, secure? A duvet day, getting some chores done, getting outside, connecting with friends - make time for it. Feeling comfortable and secure helps us to feel better in ourselves, and be reminded we are ok even if we don’t feel great. Because it’s also ok to not be ok.
Reach out to someone
Ask a friend for a catch-up, message a relative wishing them well, open up about how you are, smile at a stranger. The size of the gesture really doesn’t matter, reaching out and connecting with others helps to boost our mood, and it’s another great opportunity to normalise and understand mental wellbeing, whether it’s your own or another's.
Feel what you feel
Whatever the mood is, the emotions, the feelings - simply allow them. Try not to push them away and try not to rush through it (always easier said than done). Feeling what we’re feeling helps us to process, it might not seem great but in the long run, but it dilutes the challenging feels.
Reality reminder: Whether it’s Blue Monday or just your average Tuesday, the date doesn’t need a title for us to feel something. This is a tough month, the glitzy, glamorous December has passed and we’re left with the same dark evenings and nippy weather, except we’re not in the run-up to festivities and we’re back to work. But you got this, we’ve done January’s before. Keep going and keep looking out for your wellbeing.