Every year, the third Monday in January is dubbed ‘Blue Monday’. The theory behind this is that it is the most depressing day of the year based on things like post-Christmas blues, miserable weather, failed New Year’s resolutions, January debt, dissatisfaction about going back to work and general doom and gloom.
But is Blue Monday really the most depressing day of the year, or just a myth based on a misguided PR stunt?
There is certainly no science to suggest that this one day in January is any more depressing than any other day of the year.
It is true that there can be seasonal variations in our mental health. Things that are positive for our mental health, such as exercising and spending time outdoors are difficult to do in the winter months when days are short, and nights are long.
But shouldn’t we be thinking about our mental health every day?
After all, we all have good days and bad days, and we all have different individual circumstances – so trying to identify the most depressing day of the year seems somewhat pointless.
There is a risk that labelling one day a year as ‘blue’ or ‘depressing’, can undermine genuine mental health struggles. Suggesting anyone can feel depressed in a single day, risks belittling the experiences of those living with serious illnesses such as depression, anxiety and eating disorders.
People already struggling with their mental health, may find their anxiety exacerbated by constant references and the build up to this allegedly grim date.
A positive element of Blue Monday is that it raises awareness, encourages conversations and represents the opportunity to tackle some of the stigma around mental health illness.
Poor mental health is one of the greatest public health challenges facing this generation. This year, it is more important than ever to look after our mental health every day and support each other.
The coronavirus pandemic has affected all our mental health by eroding our social connections, financial security and hope for the future.
There are many practical things we can do to protect our mental health such as talking to people, taking regular exercise, eating a balanced diet and taking regular time out for ourselves.
Perhaps what we can take from this ‘Blue Monday’ is that we all have mental health and there are steps that we can take all year round to look after ourselves and others.
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