The reality of Blue Monday

Ever heard of Blue Monday? It’s that third Monday in January that’s supposed to be the gloomiest day of the year. But here’s the catch – there isn’t much scientific evidence to support it as the most depressing day. In reality, Blue Monday may have been more of marketing push than a scientifically grounded concept, pushed as part of a marketing campaign to sell holidays. Regardless of its origin, the emotions tied to Blue Monday continue to resonate with people.

Why might we feel blue this time of year?

The festive season has come to an end

Right after Christmas and New Year wraps up, reality hits hard. The fun and festivity disappear, giving way to a more mundane routine. That sudden shift can bring on a bit of a downer, setting the tone for Blue Monday.

Colder and shorter days

In addition to this, January falls in the middle of winter. Shorter days and chilly temperatures can intensify Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), making everything feel a bit heavier on Blue Monday.

Resolutions are easier said than done

January is the time for New Year’s resolutions, but let’s face it – turning those good intentions into reality is easier said than done. In the Winter, our natural tendency to deactivate clashes with the barrage of social media posts urging us to get fit and make changes to our lives. We experience a wrath of internal demands – I should be, I ought to be, I must be…!

Money troubles

The aftermath of Christmas spending often means dealing with post-holiday debt. Money troubles can crank up the stress levels, giving Blue Monday an extra layer of tension.

Blue Monday might not be scientifically proven, but the mix of post-holiday blues, winter weather, goal-setting challenges, financial stress, and emotional roller coasters is undeniably real. Recognising these factors can help us approach Blue Monday with a bit more understanding, practicing self-care and empathy as we navigate the hurdles that often come with the start of a new year.

So, how can we manage how we feel around this time?

Often, the basis of a balanced mood is routine, connection, experiencing joy, interest, and/or a sense of achievement. Planning ahead can make a difference. Consider simple things like booking time with a friend, tackling small things we procrastinate on, and reconnecting with things that bring joy, even if on a small scale. Even in tough times, connecting is crucial, and routine can add stability to our day, preventing our minds from drifting into the world of negative thinking.

And if you find yourself struggling, don’t go through it alone – reach out to someone, a trusted colleague, a loved one, or a friend. It might not be about finding solutions with that person, but through talking we may just feel a little less heavy. And where needed, professional help is available in many ways, of course.

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