Beating Blue Monday
The idea of Blue Monday was created in 2005 by a holiday company, as part of a PR campaign. Purported to be ‘the most depressing day of the year’, the date is worked out using a formula which combines various factors that can make us feel down: weather, debt, time since Christmas, failing to keep New Year’s resolutions, and low motivation.
This year Blue Monday falls on 20th January. The formula used to calculate the date may not be particularly mathematical, but there are many things about January that can potentially make us feel a bit gloomy and lacking in energy. It’s a ‘perfect storm’ of wintry weather and short days, a lack of money after festive splurges and a long gap between paydays, and the anti-climax after festivities and time off with the family.
Those who’ve made new year’s resolutions may be struggling with them, especially if they’ve cut out something they really enjoyed. Others will have lapsed in their good intentions, tarnishing that hopeful ‘new year, fresh start’ feeling that started the month.
It’s a time that can be difficult for us all. For someone with depression, or who experiences seasonal affective disorder (SAD), it can make their symptoms worse.
But feeling blue on Blue Monday is not inevitable! If you sense your spirits flagging, the best remedy is to take action to protect yourself against those things that might trigger a low mood. This might be tough if you’d really rather hibernate and do nothing, but by taking control you’re likely to start to feel more motivated and energetic.
Making plans is an important part of tackling the January slump. There’s a long build up to the festive season, and after looking forward to the holiday for ages it can go by very fast. Once it’s passed, everything can suddenly seem very quiet. If you dread the post-Christmas lull, make sure you book in some social activities to give yourself something to look forward to. These could involve going to see a film, heading out into the country with the family for a walk, or having dinner out with friends who make you laugh.
If it looks like it’ll be a tricky month financially, make a budget and stick to it. Think about what you can do for fun that doesn’t cost too much.
Spring can seem a long way off at this time of year, and many of us are still heading out to work in the dark and returning home in the dark. It helps to get out into the daylight every day, even if it’s only for a few minutes. Notice how the first green shoots of snowdrops, crocuses and daffodils are already starting to push their way up from the soil.
You can also take advantage of the quiet time by reflecting on what you’d like to achieve or change in the year ahead. If there’s something new you want to do or try – taking up a new hobby, learning a new skill, or doing more exercise for example – do it! It’s tempting to think “I’ll wait until I’ve got a bit more energy”, but if you make the leap now, starting slowly and gradually building up your efforts, you can beat the lethargy and begin the year with a sense of achievement.
If you find yourself struggling with feelings of depression or anxiety, you can refer yourself for online cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), which can work well as a springboard to feeling better and beating the blues. Find out more about what CBT is or how CBT can treat depression.