As we enter mid-January, the celebrations of Christmas and New Year can feel like a lifetime ago! Dry white wines have been replaced with Dry January and the ‘why not it’s Christmas’ mentality has been traded with ‘new year, new me’.
In fact, according to the Office of National Statistics (ONS), January 2021 was described as the ‘saddest on record’, with happiness levels falling to a record low, combined with worsening of mental health conditions such as anxiety and depression.
However, after the sugar high of the holiday season, we are often faced with a sugar low. This sudden change back to normality can leave us feeling down, anxious and depressed, and one day in particular is called out: Blue Monday.
What is Blue Monday?
Blue Monday is supposedly the most depressing day of the year, and it usually falls on the third Monday of January each year.
The term was coined in 2004 by psychologist Cliff Arnall for a UK travel company Sky Travel. Sky Travel claimed to have calculated a ‘formula’ proving it’s claim as shown below.
Is it really the most depressing day of the year?
The short answer is no.
Sky Travel most likely used it as a marketing ploy to get customers to think about booking that warm, summer holiday.
In fact, the ‘formula’ which includes factors such as time since Christmas and weather conditions, has been rendered meaningless due to its inability to be verified or validated.
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So is Blue Monday pointless?
Whilst the formula itself may be worthless, the theory behind it does make sense. This time of year can feel particularly dreary and this can contribute to feelings of sadness.
These factors could include:
- Dark, colder weather
- Looming credit card payments due
- Attempts (and failures) in sticking to New Years resolutions
- Feelings of guilt from over-indulgence over the festive period
- Lack of ‘something to look forward to’
- Feeling like we need to take action
- Extended wait time for monthly salary
When is Blue Monday 2023?
This year, Blue Monday falls on Monday 16th January 2023.
Tips for overcoming Blue Monday
If you’re feeling down or stressed this time of year you aren’t alone – and more than likely one single day isn’t going to make you feel that way! If you’re finding your mood change for longer, you could have Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD).
Here are our favourite tips on beating Blue Monday (or any other down day)!
1. Look after your physical health
For many, January signals the start of healthy eating and exercising. Whilst many resolutions fail, ensuring good physical health helps with our mental health too.
Regular exercise helps reduce stress and releases endorphins giving you a natural high! Try to balance that with a healthy diet and 8 hours of sleep for optimal results!
Remember to not be too hard on yourself – a habit is more likely to stick if it’s achievable!
2. Get some sunlight
Late sunrises, early sunsets and lack of daylight hours can cause us to feel down.
If you can, try and get outside during the daytime, even if it’s for a 10 minute walk. If that isn’t possible, move your desk next to a window so you can get the benefits of natural light or purchase a SAD light which mimics the sun and boosts serotonin production.
Sunlight also provides vitamin D, so you may also want to look into taking vitamin D supplements if you don’t get much sunlight daily.
3. Try Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
CBT is a form of therapy that links our thoughts, feelings and emotions. It believes that if we can change one of these aspects, the others will follow suit.
4. Stay social!
In winter it’s easy to want to stay in hibernation mode, however be sure to keep in contact with friends and family to avoid feelings of loneliness.
Whilst social media can be useful for this, try to limit time on these apps and meet in person if possible. Whether going for a coffee or taking a stroll in the park, engaging with others helps us feel fulfilled!
5. Practice gratitude
Sometimes it can be hard to remember the good things in our life when we are filled with negativity.
Try keeping a gratitude list and noting 3 – 5 things down per day that made you smile or brought joy to your life. From the weather being sunny to your pet being extra cute, once we start looking for good things in our life, we too can become more positive!
Whilst the science behind Blue Monday might be questionable, keeping positive and maintaining happiness during this time is so important.
Good days will come and go, so be kind to yourself on Blue Monday and every other day!