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In a good mood today? What? Haven't you heard? It’s Blue Monday.

You can listen to the audio version of this blog via Spotify.

In case you haven’t heard…

You may very well have woken today feeling great, (or maybe that’s pushing it a bit in the current climate, so we’ll go with that you’re feeling OK). Perhaps you feel like today is going to be a good day. Maybe you have something exciting planned – a Zoom call with a loved one, a walk with a friend (that is still allowed in England I think!), you’re planning to launch an exciting project at work, or maybe you’ve a moviefest with popcorn and chocolate all set up and ready to go this afternoon.

Let me stop you right there. Have you not heard? It’s the third Monday in January!!! That means it’s Blue Monday. And a very specific algorithm tells us that due to the fact many are in between pay days of a very long month, the days are shorter and darker with weather most likely to be wetter and greyer, we’re post-Christmas festivities and we’re maybe falling behind with our New Year’s resolutions, well then it means today is the day we’re going to be feeling our absolute worst.

So, if you were planning on having a good day today, don’t bother because the cards are most certainly stacked against you.

Don’t believe the hype

What a load of old… tosh. What absolute nonsense. I’m sorry but I do not need to be told how I am going to feel on a specific day purely because of an algorithm. Unless I am very wrong about how the brain works, I do believe I get to choose my mood…

The complex algorithm underpinning the theory that this is supposed to be the most depressing day of the year, was, hilariously, created by a travel company. Funny that. Funny that ‘Blue Monday’ is actually just a cynical marketing ploy for travel firms (good luck with that this year!), vitamin drink companies or anyone else hanging on the coat-tails and hoping to sell something to counteract Blue Monday. Unsurprisingly, mental health campaigners have stressed that depression isn’t something to be capitalised on.

There is absolutely nothing scientific about the algorithm and it’s hardly steeped in academic research papers – it was coined in 2005 by Sky Travel after they’d worked with Dr Cliff Arnall – a psychologist and life coach at Cardiff University, and he came up with this pseudoscience algorithm. The unfortunate thing is, so many people will hang their hat on this so-called Blue Monday and agree that that is exactly why they feel like they do. Rather than to think about what is at the heart of their feelings today, so that they can begin to unravel their emotions and the thoughts behind them.

Have You Heard, Part Two

If you wake up in the morning, open the curtains, see the darkness and hear the rain and tell yourself it’s going to be a miserable day in every sense, guess what, you’ll make sure you get that miserable day, you’ll ensure you feel the moody blues. For our brains work teleologically - they do what they can to prove us right. If you set out for work in a frame of mind expecting a bad day, your journey will prove you right – whereas a typically late train would probably go by unnoticed because it’s the norm, today it will more than likely elicit a much more dramatic response such as annoyance or irritation. Once at work, not being able to find a hanger for your coat or a clean coffee cup might usually just require a quick hunt around – on Blue Monday, you roll your eyes thinking of course this is happening and it’s just a sign of things to come today.

Maybe working from home – as many of us are at the moment - brings with it different kinds of challenges - that technical hiccup with Zoom, or connecting to the internet might be brushed aside normally and quickly fixed but on a ‘bad day’, it might instead manifest itself into a huge problem. Perhaps you seem to notice next door’s dog barking unusually more than normal, or delivery drivers seem to drop things off at the most inopportune moments during online meetings.

Shakespeare said it best…

There is no one day of the year that anyone can tell you is going to make you feel any worse. Unexpected things can happen which we did not ask for and of course these require a much more considered response but remember, only you are in control of the way you respond to people and situations, even on a Blue Monday.

You can make it either a good or a bad day or ensure it gets better if good isn’t always possible…

Of course, at the moment, it might feel like a cold or wet weather day and a long haul until payday is compounded by the fact that 2020 was a year like none other, plus we feel we’re still in the thick of COVID-19 but even so, we really do ultimately get to decide how we want to feel, and it all starts with the nature of your thinking.

Please don’t subscribe to the Blue Monday brigade because as Shakespeare said:

“There is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so.”

Retain your positivity and sanity on this day, think consciously about working on your mindset and the thoughts you are choosing to have and decide to ignore the negative connotations that come from this so-called Blue Monday. It’s not the saddest day of the year unless you make it so and taking time for yourself will be a welcome change to all the news pieces saying that you need X product to avoid being depressed. Remember, Blue Monday isn’t actually real, it’s a made-up phenomenon.

The alternative

I much prefer to endorse Brew Monday – an awareness raising day by the Samaritans. It turns Blue Monday on its head and is asking people to get in touch and support those who might be feeling lonely, especially during these challenging times, and have a virtual cuppa with them, to sit and listen if they need to talk, to have a conversation, to bring some cheer and raise a smile. Because as the Samaritans have said: ‘now more than ever, sharing a cuppa is more than a drink – it's about reaching out, checking in and staying connected’.

The only Blue Monday I’m interested in is the iconic hit by New Order which brings me much joy. Apart from that, I’ll decide how I am going to think and feel on a daily basis thank you very much!


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