Blue Monday: Time is a Construct
Blue Monday is a name given to a day in January (typically the third Monday of the month) claimed to be the most depressing day of the year. The concept was first publicised by Sky Travel, a holiday company which claimed to have calculated the date using an equation.
We speak to Tackle Your Feelings Campaign Manager Dr Hannah McCormack.
Hannah, what is Blue Monday?
There is no academic theory behind Blue Monday. You’ll hear people say that it is the most depressing day of the year but there is no scientific basis to make that claim. If you suffer with depression, you’re not going to be any more depressed on Blue Monday. Likewise, if you live with anxiety, you won’t be more anxious. It’s not the worst day in the year – so get that out of your head!
People have jumped on the third Monday in January simply because of where it sits in the calendar. The heightened celebrations of Christmas and the freshness of the New Year are firmly in the rear-view mirror, so you’re bound to feel a natural low after the initial novelty of being back to a routine. With that there also tends to come a realisation that things might not be any different to what they were before.
Surely I’d have realised that things are the same before now?!
New Year might seem like the most appropriate time to reflect on the previous year, but it is still a busy period. You might still be off from work, attending parties or are surrounded by family and friends. However, once ‘Blue Monday’ comes to pass, you’re back to what you might think of as the more mundane aspects of your life.
When ‘Blue Monday’ is being bandied about, it also operates as another trigger for people to look back. Yet when we reflect on things, we tend to look at the negatives: what we don’t have, what we haven’t achieved, where we haven’t been. It’s easy to ignore all we have done. It can be a difficult process, especially if you don’t have a plan for the year head either.
So Blue Monday is really just a fleeting moment of reflection?
There can be additional stresses around this time too. For instance, most people aren’t paid until the end of the month so the purse strings might be a little tight. It’s also said that it takes 21 days to form a habit, so if you’ve adopted a resolution for the New Year it might be about now that it begins to break down, if it hasn’t already.
Blue Monday is pretty bleak then…?
It’s important to look on the bright side. People fixate on the start of the week, the start of the month, the start of the year and vow to make change at those times. At the risk of sounding super philosophical, yesterday is no different to today. In reality, you can do anything at any time.
If you think about it, the UAE start their week on a different day. Their weekend comprises Friday and Saturday. Does that mean they have Blue Sunday? No! Time is a construct!
Are we really just being manipulated by marketing gurus on Blue Monday?
From a marketing perspective it has helped to focus the mind of the consumer, for sure. When is the best time to plan and book a holiday? Why not Blue Monday when a flight to Spain is at half-price?!
In the overall scheme of things, it doesn’t really matter. If something like booking a flight makes you feel better, gives you something to look forward to and it doesn’t negatively affect someone else or another aspect of your life, why should that be a bad thing? Blue Monday can help to get the ball rolling.
What if you don’t have the money to book a flight?
I’m not saying you need to pay money to feel happy, but you can use the concept of Blue Monday to your advantage – there is never a bad time to start out on a journey of self-improvement.
When you reflect on the year that has been, zone in on the positive aspects of the past year and practice being grateful. Sometimes we have all these thoughts swimming around in our head and we don’t necessarily know how to say them out loud. Write them down on a piece of paper, in a journal or in the Tackle Your Feelings app.
It doesn’t have to be a major milestone or a grand gesture, it might simply be something that made you happy in that particular moment. Naturally, with the good comes the bad. You can note these down too. When a rugby player reviews a game, they learn from it and move on. We don’t necessarily afford ourselves that opportunity but why should we be any different?
If you want to make improvements in your life, you have to figure out what you’re doing right and where you can improve. By writing it down you give yourself a chance whereas if you park it or push it away, you ignore it. Pretending it didn’t happen could have a negative impact on your wellbeing.
Is there anything else I can do?
I think you should always remember to be nice to yourself. If something makes you happy – going for a walk, reading, admiring art, playing a computer game – then make yourself happy doing one of those things. Why punish yourself? People confuse self-care with selfishness. In my opinion, you have to be selfish in certain situations if it means you’re looking after yourself. If a voucher for a flight to New York that helps you do it, go for it!
The main thing is finding out what works for you. Self-care is an individualised thing.Only you will know what truly makes you happy.
It’s a dreary Blue Monday morning, you’re parked on the M50 and Radiohead comes on the radio. How do you react?
Sometimes it’s not always practical to start jotting things down or be grateful at a time when things are getting on top of you. Luckily I have a commuting buddy – someone I trust and can have an open conversation with. By asking someone about their weekend, conversation will come back around. I use this opportunity to review and reflect on something that might have happened.
Even if you’re setting out on the day on your own, there is also somebody just a phonecall away. It doesn’t have to be a Monday morning either. Why wait? Time is a construct!
Download the Tackle Your Feelings app for free on iOS and Android platforms now. With sections on gratitude, support networks, reflection and self-care all catered for, make your Blue Monday the best yet!Back to News