Beating the Blues this Blue January
What is Blue Monday?
Generally, January is considered a blue month, as people recover from the excitement of Christmas and prepare for the seemingly daunting year ahead. Blue Monday is considered the gloomiest day of the year. Every third Monday in January is around about the time when people start to realise how much they spent over Christmas with the arrival of the first bills of the year, are struggling to stick to their new year’s resolutions, and are feeling sluggish and insecure about all the food they ate during the holidays.
The concept of Blue Monday was something that was stumbled upon by Psychologist Dr Cliff Arnall. He was asked by British Travel firm, Sky Travel, to create a formula for the best day to book a summer holiday, however when investigating the motives for booking a holiday, reflecting on what he’d learned from stress management and happiness workshops, he identified that the third Monday of January was particularly depressing. He did so by factoring in a number of elements; weather, debt, monthly salary, low motivational levels, time since failing new year’s resolutions, and the feeling of a need to take action.
Sky Travel liked the concept enough that they used it in a press release as a PR stunt in 2005, and it has now become a common notion across the UK. However this isn’t something that people should view as definitive. Arnall has since refuted the formula, calling it pseudoscience and encouraging Brits not to take this as gospel. Along with other psychologists, he states it potentially trivialises depression, however it didn’t take much for companies to embrace the idea and use it to sell products that improve a gloomy outlook, perpetuating the term ‘blue Monday’.
You can see why the theory of the third Monday (16th January in 2023) holds some weight to it. It is at this time people are beginning to find out just how much they spent over the holidays, with the first bills of the year coming in. New year’s resolutions also play a part, with people notoriously aspiring to too big a goal, and feeling down when they cannot achieve them, or are already struggling to stick to it. The weather is cold and gloomy which, in December, added to the magic of Christmas, but in the light of the new year is just depressing. Overall a lot of people end up with a lack of motivation to do anything. In some cases, just being aware of Blue Monday can act as a placebo, making people feel sad without an actual cause.
Besides the placebo, the collective month of sadness can also be attributed to Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) which affects over 2 million people in the UK alone. SAD is a type of depression related to the changing of the seasons. Most people feel the effects in the Autumn through to spring, sapping your energy and making you feel moody, and some feel its effects from spring to summer – it can be different for everyone. In extreme cases therapy or medication can help.
How can this be fixed?
For those hoping to avoid feeling the placebo-effect of Blue Monday – and a gloomy January in general – celebrate it instead! Here are a few ways to enjoy blue Monday:
Positivity and an open mind
Be honest with yourself about your new year goals. Achievable is the key word. Don’t set yourself up for failure with big goals and try out a few smaller ones; you aren’t going to go vegan with a snap of your fingers. It takes time for your body and mind to get used to eating differently. Instead, start with a more attainable goal of 2/3 days a week. You’ll most likely be able to get through these smaller goals quicker, and achieve instant satisfaction.
Change your mindset
Your mindset is what gives control to Blue Monday. Don’t let it! If the weather is nice (which, in January, the standard of good weather is merely no rain) take a walk and enjoy the fresh air. Spend time at the gym, as endorphins will help to combat sadness and boost your mood. 30 minutes a day should do the trick! Even just a short walk can do wonders.
Do your favourite things
Watch an uplifting movie or TV show, listen to your favourite music, spend time with your friends and family, practice self-care; anything that makes you happy.
Refocus your goals
Instead of looking down on yourself, spend the day thinking about what you want the rest of your year to look like. What goals do you want to achieve? Write down any work aspirations, personal development, travel plans, and stick them somewhere you can see often as inspiration.
At HPD we offer Lifestyle Management, Motivational Speakers, and Personal Effectiveness programmes to improve mindset when it comes to all aspects of life, with delegates often bringing their own life experiences to the table to inspire others.