January is, for many people and many reasons, pretty miserable. The weather’s horrible. It’s dark and cold. Christmas is over (although this isn’t a bad thing for everyone) but the debt remains. Dry January or ill-advised new year’s resolutions may now be starting to feel a bit of a drag. Then you see it on the news: 21st January is Blue Monday, the most depressing day of the year. That explains it, then.
Except it doesn’t, for one simple reason: THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS BLUE MONDAY. The way it is talked about you would assume there is some evidence behind it. It seems to make some sense and these things don’t just get made up, do they?
Well, as it turns out, yes they do. Because in 2005 the idea of Blue Monday was popularised by a travel company. Why? To encourage people to book holidays. After all, what better way to cheer yourself up than the promise of a couple of weeks in the sun?
The problems with Blue Monday
The way I see it, there are three main problems with the idea of Blue Monday, and they all come from the fact that people might think it’s real.
If you’re told that a particular day is the most depressing of the year it can become a self-fulfilling prophecy. You might start to notice the small negative things more, because they confirm what you have already been told. This can make a perfectly normal January day feel even worse than usual just because you’re paying more attention to the bad bits.
Also, if you’ve been feeling depressed, it gives a nice simple explanation for why. It’s not you, it’s not something you need to do anything about, it’s just because of the date.
And finally, if someone tells you that they’re having a bad time, it may be tempting to think you know why. ‘Ah, that’s Blue Monday for you’, you reply. ‘It’s just the date. Nothing to worry about’.
Interestingly, the man who originally coined the term Blue Monday never meant it to be depressing. It was meant to spur people into action, to encourage them to make changes for the better. And not just buying a holiday.
But really, we don’t need a ‘solution’ for Blue Monday because there isn’t a problem. It’s just a day. It may be a great day or a crappy day. But whatever it is, the date is nothing to do with it.
The point of this post, then, is simply to say: forget all the Blue Monday nonsense. Treat today like any other day. If you’re having a bad day try to do something to make you feel better. But if it’s been going on for a while, talk to somebody. It’s a massive cliché and I know it doesn’t always feel like it but, believe me, it really does help. People are far more understanding than you might think.
The other side of it is that if someone tells you they’re having a bad day, don’t assume you know why. It’s not because it’s 21st January, so take the time to find out what’s wrong and how long it’s been going on. It can be a difficult situation – especially for men, who aren’t really used to talking about this kind of thing. But there is lots of information out there on how to support someone who is depressed.
But, hopefully, you’ll just have a normal, possibly slightly miserable (because it is a Monday in January, after all) day. Because a normal day is exactly what it is.
Photo by Héctor J. Rivas on Unsplash