Blue Monday falls this Monday, January 20 and is the name given to what is considered the most depressing day of the year. First coined in a press release in 2005 by Sky Travel, the day has caught on, with some – including the NHS – using it to raise awareness of mental health issues.
What exactly is Blue Monday?
The term Blue Monday was first used in a 2005 press release by Sky Travel.
The day was marketed as the perfect one to book a holiday.
It was the brainchild of psychologist Dr Cliff Arnall who worked out a “formula” for the so-called January blues.
This combines elements such as the time since Christmas, the weather and motivation among others to work out the worst day of the year.
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Mr Arnall told The Daily Telegraph in 2013: “I was originally asked to come up with what I thought was the best day to book a summer holiday but when I started thinking about the motives for booking a holiday, reflecting on what thousands had told me during stress management or happiness workshops, there were these factors that pointed to the third Monday in January as being particularly depressing.
“But it is not particularly helpful to put that out there and say ‘there you are’”
Mr Arnall went on to describe Blue Monday as a self-fulfilling prophecy.
Despite this, there are still PR campaigns focused on Blue Monday, with deals promising to “perk you up” and get you through the day.
Chartered psychologist Dr Joan Harvey told The Independent Blue Monday is “completely meaningless” especially when it comes to the claims the weather impact the day.
She said: “If it’s really bright and sunny, you might even find yourself feeling cheerful on the day.”
Feeling under the weather or depressed in the winter is not narrowed down to just one day, however, and some experience what is known as Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD).
SAD is a mental health disorder which can cause sufferers to feel depressed and anxious during the winter months.
The short daylight hours and grey weather of winter can impact how some people feel, sometimes severely.
- Sleep problems: oversleeping (but not feeling refreshed) and difficulty staying awake, or in some cases disturbed sleep and early morning wakening
- Lethargy: too tired to cope, everything becomes an effort
- Overeating: craving for carbohydrates and sweet foods leading to weight gain
- Depression: feelings of despair, misery, guilt, anxiety, hopelessness, normal tasks become frustratingly difficult
- Social problems: avoiding family and friends, irritability, inability to handle stress, feeling emotionally numb, loss of libido
- Physical symptoms: often joint pain or stomach problems and a lowered resistance to infection
- Behavioural problems: extremes of mood and short periods of overactivity in spring and autumn
SAD can be treated in a number of ways, including antidepressants, a holiday to a sunny climate or a lightbox.
Cognitive Behaviour Therapy or CBT can also help with SAD.
Sitting in front of a lightbox or similar light therapy for periods of time can help alleviate symptoms of SAD.
If you feel like you need someone to talk to, you can call the Samaritans on 116 123 or email [email protected]