A guide to Blue Monday

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Health Assured team

22 December 2016

Beating ‘the most depressing day of the year’...


What is Blue Monday?

Blue Monday typically falls on the third Monday of January each year. The concept was first introduced as part of a marketing campaign by Sky Travel in 2005, which claimed that a combination of bad weather, post-Christmas debt and failed New Year’s resolutions makes for the most depressing day of the year. Since its inception, the term has been widely adopted for advertising purposes, in order to sell whatever product or service could help us to beat the blues- from holidays, to hotels, to spa passes and beauty treatments, all promising a safe retreat from misery. But is there any truth behind Blue Monday?  

Blue Monday: fact or myth?

While Sky Travel paid a psychologist, Cliff Arnall, to create a mathematical formula for Blue Monday, taking factors such as “debt”, “motivation”, “weather”, “need to take action” and other variables into consideration, this was geared towards fuelling the marketing campaign rather than conducting scientific research. Cliff has since admitted that “there were these factors that pointed to the third Monday in January as being particularly depressing […] but it is not particularly helpful to put that out there […] it is almost a self-fulfilling prophecy that it is the most depressing day.” However, that’s not to say that there’s no reason to feel down on Blue Monday. By mid-January, Christmas is well and truly over, our bank balances are under strain, the days are short, cold and dark and our New Year’s resolutions are wearing thin. It’s no surprise that for many, the month of January can feel like one long post-Christmas comedown and a harsh return to reality.  

Blue Monday: practical tips

Whether you feel down on Blue Monday or any other day of the month, here are some practical tips for planning ahead and beating the January blues:
  • Focus on the things that matter Many spend Blue Monday trawling through travel company websites trying to find the best deal for a quick escape from it all, but this can be counter-productive when our wallets are already feeling the pinch. Try focussing on the sentimental or meaningful things in your life that matter- tell a loved one how much they mean to you, go through an old photo album together or plan to catch up with an old friend.
  • Try something new Blue Monday places an emphasis upon the good times gone by and the bleak road ahead, but this year, why not plan ahead to try something new on Blue Monday? Go for a run, join a dance class, or vow to start using that smoothie maker you got for Christmas…
  • Don’t forget perspective Blue Monday can feel all the worse if we spend it ruminating on the all things we’re unhappy with in our own lives. Sometimes a little perspective can go a long way, reminding us that we’re not alone. The world is still spinning and there are millions of people out there who are facing their own challenges. So this year, why not try volunteering or fundraising for others less fortunate on Blue Monday?
  • Set an achievable target If your New Year’s resolutions are losing their appeal by mid-January, why not set yourself a completely unrelated mini goal to achieve on Blue Monday? It could be as simple as doing some DIY, cooking a batch of soup for the week ahead, or doing some early spring cleaning. You’ll end the day with a sense of achievement and you just might remember why you set those bigger, long-term resolutions on New Year’s Eve.
  • Look after your physical wellbeing Whether it’s taking Vitamin D supplements while the sun is hiding away, going for a swim, doing some yoga or going on a brisk walk to the shops, don’t forget to look after your physical health on Blue Monday. Exercise boosts endorphins and will leave you feeling calm and content.

The bigger picture

While for some, Blue Monday is a temporary occurrence in need of temporary remedies, others may be experiencing depression throughout the year. If you think that you or someone you know may be experiencing depression, help is available.   Visit www.healthassuredeap.co.uk/depression/ to learn more about the symptoms of depression or contact our helpline for professional support.

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