According to ‘research’ conducted in 2004, Blue Monday falls on the third Monday in January and is said to be ‘the most depressing day of the year’.
This year, it falls on Monday 18th January 2021.
The term was coined by a psychologist called Dr Cliff Arnall when Sky Travel asked him to calculate scientifically when would be the most depressing day of the year. He took into account things like the bad weather, finances being tight after the festive season and the general unenthusiastic approach to work we all have after a break. This information was then used in a 2005 press release to sell holidays to people, and so Blue Monday was born.
Many mental health advocates think it’s a load of rubbish and, while I’m inclined to agree, I also think it presents a good opportunity. One that gets people talking and that’s definitely not a bad thing.
Many mental health campaigners are outraged and take to social media every year to condemn it. And partly, they’re right to. Its origins are based on selling happiness, something that can’t be bought.
So, with that in mind, here are 4 ways to turn Blue Monday into a positive:
Ignore the wishy-washy science
And that’s being polite. Even the guy who came up with it said ‘it’s not particularly helpful’ and a ‘self-fulfilling prophecy’ (source)! It all stemmed from Sky Travel wanting to flog holidays. Without the science, Blue Monday has no basis.
Blue Monday = Marketing
The only reason Blue Monday is still going 16 years later is because of companies using it as a hook to try and sell us things we don’t need. If you’re struggling with poor mental health, these things can be quite triggering. If you see mentions of Blue Monday and it’s just a marketing ploy, try not to get sucked in. Nothing they’re offering can change the way you feel.
Delete toxic positivity
Blue Monday brings out a lot of ‘toxic positivity’ by which I mean the ‘force yourself to be happy and you’ll be happy’ spiel. It doesn’t help, it just hinders and makes you feel worse. Unhelpful quotes, glamourous Instagram photos and ‘be positive’ talk are harmful if you’re struggling with depression. Use Blue Monday to unfollow those accounts that make you feel envious or sad.
Start a mental health conversation
Instead of playing into the marketers hands, why not use the day to:
- Start a conversation about mental health
- Text a loved one/friend to ask how they’re doing
- Share information from charities such as Mind, Samaritans and Rethink Mental Illness to help any followers who might be struggling
- Do something kind for a friend/family member to show you’re thinking of them
Right now, it’s more important than ever to look after our mental and physical health and many of us will be looking for quick fixes to help us look and feel better. However, whatever diet pills or slimming teas or sachets are being sold, they won’t ultimately help you be happy. They just line the pockets of companies who don’t care about how anxious or depressed you are.
Use Blue Monday as a way of noticing how you’re feeling and make a positive change. A change that will definitely outlive a box of strange smelling, herbal tea.