Wishing away the winter months in favour of warmer and happier days? Well, you’re not the only one. This Monday is supposedly the most depressing day of the year. Don’t be disheartened by the dull weather and dark days, though, we’ve done some research and it turns out Blue Monday could actually be a myth.
But in case you are feeling a little bit down this Monday, we’ve come up with a few ways to put a smile on your face…
How did Blue Monday come about?
In the early 2000’s, Cliff Arnall, a British psychologist, came up with a mathematical equation that declared the third Monday of the month to be the most depressing day of the year, so it was dubbed “Blue Monday”.
Arnall included the following factors in his calculations:
- Cold and wet winter weather
- Short and dark days
- Christmas and the party season are over
- Lack of money after Christmas
- Returning to work after a long holiday
But Blue Monday might not be as scientific as we were once led to believe. The term ‘Blue Monday’ was actually used to boost sales for a travel company. So, you might feel a bit bummed out as you’re waiting for your paycheque, and yes the weather isn’t the best right now, but it’s not scientifically inevitable that you’ll feel blue this Monday…
In fact, Stephen Buckley, head if information for mental health charity MIND, said in 2016 that Blue Monday risks trivialising mental health issues like depression, saying:
“There is no credible evidence to suggest that one day in particular can increase the risk of people feeling depressed. There are of course certain things that may make people feel down at this time of year, such as post-Christmas financial strains, broken New Year’s resolutions, bad weather and short daylight hours. However, depression is not just a one day event”4
However, if you are feeling a bit glum, here are some ways to boost your mood.
Take yourself somewhere sunny
Unfortunately there’ll be no last minute escapes for winter sun this January, but you can still boost your mood with some time outside. If work’s too busy or you’re stuck inside right now, then it’s time to invest in a UV lamp. Simply switch up your UV lamp to get that glowing summer feeling going. Light therapy’s actually been proven to be effective in treating seasonal affective disorder (SAD), so why not use your work’s free electricity to power your way to sunshine and rainbows — you can thank us later.1
Taking yourself somewhere sunny can also be achieved with a good old meditation session. Sit yourself somewhere comfortable, focus on your breathing, and picture hot summer days on the beach and ice-cold pina coladas.
Forget work, watch GIFs
Hedgehogs having a bath, frogs getting tickled, and dogs being, well… dogs. There’s nothing that’ll make you smile like a good GIF or meme. It’s the simple things in life that add up to make a happy person. Taking time to laugh and smile releases neuropeptides that work towards fighting off stress, as well as feel-good hormones such as dopamine, serotonin and endorphins.2-3 So, ditch that report you’ve been putting off since before Christmas and load up some seriously funny cat videos.
Get out from under that duvet
There’s nothing as horrible as tearing yourself away from the warm cosy comfort of your bed, but lying there all day dwelling on how horrid January really is probably won’t leave you feeling any better.Instead, let’s try and do little things that make us feel better. Whether it’s a bacon sarnie to start your day, or a lunchtime run to get those endorphins flooding in, doing little things you enjoy will make you feel much better than staying in bed.
Something to look forward to
We know this January has been extra blue, in fact, the whole of this bast year has felt like a Blue Monday. It’s important to remember that this is all temporary — there’s a light at the end of the tunnel and soon enough we’ll be back to huggin and drinking in bars. So, talk to your friends and family about how you’re feeling and make some initial plans in the hope that this will be over in the next few months. Think about all the fun we’ll have together as soon as we can!
There’s also plenty you can do right now. So, make some plans — pull on your productive pants and get to work on projects you’ve been putting off “until after Christmas”. Paint that living room nice and bright, meet up with long lost pals, or take a piano lesson.
Take home message
Some of these suggestions to get you out of the doom and gloom of Blue Monday may feel a little too light-hearted. However, starting with the little things such as a smile and a bit of sunlight can work real magic as you work on the bigger picture. Have a little perspective, be pragmatic and remember, Blue Monday is actually just another Monday…
1 Lam, R. W., Buchanan, A., Clark, C. M., & Remick, R. A. (1991). Ultraviolet versus non-ultraviolet light therapy for seasonal affective disorder. The Journal of clinical psychiatry.
2 Seaward BL. Managing Stress: Principles and Strategies for Health and Well-Being. Sudbury, Mass.: Jones and Bartlett; 2009:258.
3 R.D. (2000). Neural correlates of conscious emotional experience. In R.D. Lane & L. Nadel (Eds.), Cognitive neuroscience of emotion (pp. 345–370). New York: Oxford University Press.
4MIND 2016. https://www.mind.org.uk/news-campaigns/news/busting-the-blue-monday-myth-with-blueanyday/