The third Monday of January is often considered to be the ‘most difficult day of the year’. Attributed to the mix of dreary weather, the post-Christmas lull, stretched finances and those pesky unattainable New Year’s resolutions many of us set ourselves, the day (and most of the month really) can be tough for many of us. But what do you think? And what does this day really mean for us?
“Blue Monday”, the third Monday in January, termed the most ‘depressing day of the year’. And it’s fairly easy to see why. After the hype and celebrations that keep us going through December, by January the fuss is over, we’re returning to work, the weather can be bleak and there’s an awful lot of pressure to make changes to our lifestyles - whether we really want to or not. There’s a concoction of reasons this day might feel a little blue.
But there’s a lot of dispute around this day. Can we really say that this day, in particular, is any more ‘blue’ than any other Monday or day in January - the month in general can be tough? And even further, is telling ourselves it’s a difficult day, actually just making it more difficult for us?
The origin of Blue Monday
You’d think there might be some evidence, other than the reasons discussed, to suggest that today is so sad. But the truth is that the term was coined in 2004 by Cliff Arnall - a psychologist and motivational speaker, asked to calculate a formula to determine the most depressing day of the year. This was requested by a now-defunct travel firm and became the centrepiece of a Sky Travel marketing campaign to encourage people to book holidays, which in theory would alleviate some of those blue feelings today.
So, if you were looking for a reason to book that summer holiday, go on that city break, or book that one-way flight to travel here it is. If you were looking for some hard evidence for feeling blue today or that today really is the most depressing day of the year - this isn’t it.
But it’s absolutely understandable that we all have tough moments throughout January.
What does it mean for us?
Labelling a day as the 'saddest day of the year' might help some of us feel less alone with our struggles. It might give us the chance to slow down, rest and feel our feelings that we might not have the rest of the time. It might help some of us force in some self-care, a relaxing bubble bath after work, a long catch-up with a friend, or taking a walk through your favourite park. Something that takes care of us and our needs, giving us a quick snippet away from the stress of life and the blueness of January.
But labelling the day can also lead to something known as a self-fulfilling prophecy. The term refers to a prediction that causes itself to become true - like when we believe we will fail at something, we’re more likely to fail because of that narrative we provide for ourselves.
Labelling today as Blue Monday, may in fact set us up for a worse day than if we considered it to be a standard day. Believing today to be the most depressing day of the year, might be rather unhelpful for many of us, now feeling worse in ourselves, sadder than we did yesterday (and not just because it was the weekend then) and more blue than usual.
It’s a two-sided coin, for some Blue Monday may help us accept and give us some needed time to process our feelings, whatever they are. For others, it could simply make everything feel a bit more challenging. The thing to remember is, there is no evidence that this day is the saddest day of the year, but if you’re finding January tough you are not alone!
What’s Brew Monday then?
Samaritans stand strongly against Blue Monday, they recognise that we all have our good days, bad days and everything in between but the calendar certainly doesn’t decide for us. And we agree! So they’re banishing the myth of this Monday being blue, by reaching out for a conversation over a brew.
And of course, it doesn’t really matter if you take part today or at the weekend, next week or even next month. Connecting with others, when we’re feeling good or if we’re feeling blue, can strengthen our wellbeing. It can give us a chance to air out any issues we’re facing, talk about what’s troubling us, and even moan about the January struggles. It gives us chance to fill our brains and bodies with serotonin and oxytocin, whether we’re catching up, having a laugh or even a cry. These two happy hormones help us feel safe, secure and satisfied - an instant mood boost.
So perhaps Brew Monday is more up your street? Perhaps it’s a good excuse to reach out to your colleagues and share a coffee, sit down with your partner and a brew after work tonight, or even call your bestie and virtually sip tea together.
Today is just another day: It’s no more ‘depressing’ than yesterday or tomorrow, it’s even not necessarily a blue day at all. Focus on you and your wellbeing, listen to your needs and take a moment for yourself today - even if it’s been glorious. Wherever you stand, today might be just the chance you needed to process the start of the new year, to take a moment to relax, reach out or run around.
Let us know what you think on social media - head to our LinkedIn page to join in the debate!