January 15th: Blue Monday
Let’s face it, Monday’s are always the bane of everyone’s lives. Added to the fact we are slap bang, right in the middle of a bleak winter and it’s raining – a recipe to cause a slump in anyone’s mood.
However, it is important to remember that the idea behind Blue Monday is not something that should be joked about; it’s no laughing matter. Every day, normal people – just like me and you – suffer with their mental health, whether it be suffering from seasonal affective disorder, or depression and anxiety.
“Blue Monday”, a term coined by the psychologist Cliff Arnall in 2005, was created after a publicist at a British holiday company persuaded him to create a “scientific formula” to find out when “the most depressing day of the year” is. Taking into account the weather, debt, time since Christmas, time since failing in our new year’s resolutions, motivational levels, and the feeling of a need to take action, he decided that the third Monday in January is the “most depressing” day.
However, it is important to acknowledge that, despite the sheer amount publicity this particular date gets in the press and on social media, it is not real. Factually incorrect, in fact. There is no formula to being depressed – it just happens. Mental health problems can creep up on you on any day, and at any time of the year, not just Blue Monday.
Mental health problems can be made considerably worse when superficial marketing campaigns, such as today’s so-called Blue Monday, which suggest it is perfectly fine to feel depressed on specific days, with the implication being “cheer up” the rest of the year. The notion behind the annual day is dangerously misleading, and those who live with depression know that their feelings are simply not dictated by a date. It merely implies that depression is nothing serious, and is just a term to describe someone who is ‘feeling a bit down in the dumps’. This is so wrong and sends the completely wrong message. Depression is real – oh so real – and it is no light-hearted matter.
I have experienced ‘depression’ on winter days when the sky is dark and the day is dreary, and even on the brightest days in the height of summer. Depression does not discriminate – it can strike anywhere, at anytime, to anyone.
To highlight this issue, the mental health charity Mind has set up the #BlueAnyDay hashtag on social media, to emphasise their mantra, in the words of Jessie J: “it’s okay not to be okay”. As well as this, the Samaritans advise everyone to forget the fad, and instead do what us Brits do best: chat and have a cup of English Breakfast tea, with the slogan:
“Forget ‘Blue Monday’ and instead join Samaritans for ‘Brew Monday’.”
This is something I could definitely get on board with.
I have personally never been clinically diagnosed with depression, however, I know I have felt feelings of such utter despair, overwhelming sadness and exhaustion in the past, so much so I have attended counselling sessions to help me deal with my feelings and mental state. The feelings I have felt I do not wish on anyone.
So if you feel yourself feeling down today, remember that Blue Monday isn’t real. It’s just Monday 15th January 2018; the third Monday of the month – just the same as every other Monday in our 365-day cycle.
Top tips to combat feeling down…
- Be open – This is so incredibly important. There are days where you may dip into darkness seemingly without any explanation – and it’s okay.
- Express yourself – Whether this be through writing, drawing, singing, dancing. For me, reading and writing is what helps me.
- Walk/exercise – I walk every day. I feel it helps lift my mood completely, even when it’s raining or miserable. After all, exercise is scientifically proven to boost your endorphins.
- Spend time with nature – Spending time outdoors, particularly in a leafy green environment, is incredibly therapeutic, both in cold winter days and the beaming sunshine.
P.S: It’s only 74 days until the next bank holiday!