It’s the third Monday of 2018 and today is considered to be the ‘most depressing day of the year’ – otherwise known as ‘Blue Monday’.
What is ‘Blue Monday’ all about?
Back in 2005, Dr Cliff Arnall coined the phrase ‘Blue Monday’ by formulating various factors, such as poor weather, debt, Christmas ending, failed New Year’s resolutions and low motivation levels. Apparently, these all contribute to a mass ‘depression’ occurring on this very day.
Sounds pretty dispiriting right?!
Why I hate ‘Blue Monday’
My reasons are simple:
As someone who lives with depression and works with people who do -the feelings associated by depression are not dictated by a date.
There is no scientific evidence to support this formula. But the mind is a powerful thing. Often, what we think is what we become. When you constantly see and hear that today is the most depressing day of the year, along with the dull wet weather, the battle to keep going with your New Year’s resolutions and also simply the fact that it’s a Monday is enough for you to end up having a sad day (or feeling like you are). By thinking/believing that today is the most depressing day of the year, you could end up focusing on the negative events of the day, in order to prove that thought/belief, instead of focusing the positive things (that go against that belief).
It’s the perfect example of a PR/marketing stunt – but one that can have damaging consequences on your mental wellbeing. The whole concept of ‘Blue Monday’ simply perpetuates the stigma of depression just being a feeling of ‘sadness’ or feeling low. More so, it gives a false understanding that “it will all be over by tomorrow”. It’s not that simple.
Battle The Blues
Yes you may be feeling a bit deflated: the weather may not be great, you may miss Christmas, you may be struggling with your New Year’s resolutions or find yourself with a week or two to go until payday – But your current state of mind needn’t determine the rest of your year.
In fact, Dr Arnall intended the phrase to encourage people to take action and, where possible, make bold life decisions and take a positive outlook on the time of year as an opportunity for growth, new beginnings and change.
There are plenty of things you can do today to divert away from the misery of today and not only turn your day around, but turn your year around too:
1. Stay Focused!
January is a wonderful time for reflecting on your life journey and setting goals for what you want to accomplish in the months ahead. Whether those goals be in relation to your personal development, your career, your finances, your health or your family and friends – there’s always room for improvement. Whatever the goal is, no matter how big or small, the best step you can make is the one you make today! Read my previous blog post: ‘New Year, Better You?‘ to discover 18 ways to achieve your goals this year.
2. Be Mindful!
Start your day right with 10 minutes of mindfulness practice. Mindfulness is all about having a non-judgemental awareness of the present moment. All too often we are focused by what went on yesterday, last week, last month last year or anticipating what could come later on today, tomorrow, next week, next month or next year. We are caught up in what’s trending, what’s not, what’s on our agenda for the day, what’s for dinner and so on. If you’re anything like me, you’ll have 20+ tabs open on your laptop (I was actually forced to close 131 Safari tabs on my phone the other day), always thinking about what you’ve already done, what needs to be done and how you’re going to do it, typing with your right hand, glancing up at the TV whilst “watching” your favourite show…never really focusing on one thing at a time. Truth is, we hardly ever focus on what is…right at this moment.
Pay more attention to what you are doing right at this moment (besides reading this article). Be mindful in your everyday activities. The best gift you could give yourself today is the gift of your precious time, especially those precious first few minutes of the day.
The daily practice of mindfulness practice could lead to reduced anxiety and stress, improved focus and memory and better sleep – what are you waiting for?!
3. Be Active!
Keeping active is another thing you could do to improve your mental health, relieve stress, improve memory and focus and help you sleep better. Not only is there an extensive amount of research to support the reality that regular exercise improves physical health – it also does wonders to boost your overall mood. If you’re someone who exercises often already or considers themselves to be relatively active, that’s great. But you don’t have to be a fitness fanatic to benefit from what regular exercise and activity has to offer. Whether it be a 10 minute walk during your lunch break or an hour of high-intensity interval training – Regardless of your age or fitness level, exercise can be a powerful tool to improving your mood and also your physical health.
4. Do What You Love!
Spend at least 30 minutes of your day doing an activity that you love or enjoy. The lower in mood you feel, the more you withdraw from the things you love doing. The more you withdraw from the things you love doing, the more guilty and ‘depressed’ you feel. Break that vicious cycle today by scheduling in at least one thing that you love doing or used to love doing. The idea behind this is that you can lose yourself in something you enjoy doing. The more you enjoy yourself, the more you get that sense of achievement and the better you begin to feel in yourself. That means, no matter how awful the day was – if you spend at least 30 minutes doing something you love, that’s 30 minutes of your day that you can forget about your worries, negative thoughts and feelings away (even just for a while).
5. Have a Cuppa!
Samaritans, a charitable organisation closest to my heart, is aiming to turn ‘the most difficult’ day of the year around by renaming ‘Blue Monday’ to ‘Brew Monday’ to celebrate the wonderful tradition of getting together with your friends, family or colleagues to talk over a cup of tea (or whatever else you prefer!) and banish the winter blues.
Many branches of the Samaritans charity across the UK will be offering a brew and a chat at events across the country.
Find out how you can get involved this Brew Monday
So how do you plan on ‘battling the blues’ this Monday? Share your tips below!