BLUE MONDAY
Dee Chadwick
19 Jan 2020
Monday 20th of January is designated as ‘Blue Monday’. What are the reasons for this? What are the possibly unintended effects of such a day?

REASONS FOR NAMING THE DAY

This began back in 2005, and as with such things has gradually popped its head further up and over the parapets and into our lives. Or rather, the press, the media have done this with their annually increasing mentions. I have to admit that up until last year, I had not even heard of Blue Monday but this year, it has seemed hard to avoid its mention.  This year, the day falls on the third Monday of the year, though the ‘formula’ apparently allows for quite a bit of flexibility here between the second and final Monday in January. The USA is not a party to this phenomenon as the date coincides with Martin Luther King Jr. Day. I wonder if it will make its way over the pond?

Back in 2005, it was in fact launched as a ‘concept’ in the form of a press release by Sky Travel. The claim that accompanied the release was that the actual date had been calculated by means of an equation. At this point, I have to say that my cynical hat is firmly in place, as it is whenever the words formula or equation are linked to events, happenings in such a pseudoscientific way. It apparently only applies to the Northern Hemisphere, so I guess that readers in such as USA and New Zealand are considered to be immune to such concepts, coinciding with a special day or not.

I did wonder if April 1st would have been a better day to have chosen – that cynical hat is still in place. However, this would not have helped said Travel Company to stir people into action to book those summer holidays as an antidote to their negative feelings. The negatives of the cold weather, the longer nights – though they are already  shortening. The New Year Resolutions already kicked in to touch and forgotten though possibly with a lingering sense of guilt. The visits to the scales revealing a gain in weight, a need to squeeze into those trousers.  A home devoid of the sparkle of Christmas Trees and decorations. Memories of a lack of gifts or inappropriate gifts that you feel reflect a lack of warmth or caring about you. A lack of being included in gatherings, celebrations; or on the flip side,far too many of these events. A return to what may be the monotony of work. Add in the credit card bills as a result of the extravagances of the festive period. Credit card bills that may be presenting  questions of how you are going to pay them. A whole heap of negativity for many.

Were some of these bills as a result of anther ‘designated day’ – Black Friday –a day  which encouraged folk to flash the plastic for some genuine bargains as well as some perceived bargains that simply could not be lived without.  Another ‘day’ invented and promoted by the media along with traders . No doubt accompanied by much hand rubbing on behalf of those wanting to encourage us to part with our money. Another day labelled with another colour that can have negative connotations.

WHAT ARE THE PRESSURES OF NAMING SUCH A DAY AS BLUE MONDAY?

Presumably those who originally conceived of the idea of Blue Monday didn’t set out to intentionally depress people, but sadly, I feel that this is what has happened along the way.

First of all, there is the implication that this ‘blueness’ is only a one day event. All I can say is that there are many who would wholeheartedly wish that this were so.

I have worked with many people with mental health issues and have struggled similarly myself. There are those who may be feeling a bit low. This could be as a result of such things as that post festive period drop in positivity; a lack of sunlight resulting in symptoms of SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder) a subject covered in an earlier blog; a background of negative mood that periodically drops lower; mild depression,

If you are struggling at all, the fact that you are being reminded of it can add to your negativity. That good old power of the words we hear. Just as if when you are struggling to literally keep your head above water and are told ‘don’t  panic’. Your mind in its turmoil selectively loses the ‘don’t’ and focuses in on the word ‘panic’. In fact you might not have actually been doing that, but the suggestion given by your mind can click that very thing into gear. So with ‘blue Monday’ with the use of the colour blue as indicative of a feeling of being in a low mood, maybe sad, lonely or down. A possible trigger for a person who was feeling neutral in their mood, though with a tendency to take those dips, to be pushed into such a dip.

If the message is seen by someone who is suffering with depression, it can well be another reason for them to get out that proverbial big stick with which they mentally beat themselves up. By having such a named date, there can also be an implication that struggling with mental health is either a consideration of little importance, or something that clicks in on a suggested date. OK, there can be triggers that achieve this for people, but with specific dates that are relevant to them. The anniversary of the death of a child, a sibling; what would have been a wedding day. They certainly don’t want to be reminded of their problems if they switch on the television or browse a newspaper.

A statement on ‘Mind’ websites with reference to Blue Monday says: "Here at Mind, we think it’s dangerously misleading. Those of us who live with depression know that those feelings aren’t dictated by the date.’ 

"Implying that they are perpetuates the myth that depression is just 'feeling a bit down', something that doesn’t need to be taken seriously."

Their Head of Information, Stephen Buckley says - “Blue Monday contributes to damaging misconceptions about depression and trivialises an illness that can be life threatening. depression is not just a one day event.’

Yes, the media does appear to be becoming more supportive of those with mental health issues, but they really need to have a greater understanding of its implications and how people can be adversely affected.

Then there is the concept of booking a holiday. Great idea, and certainly something to look forward to. However, if by doing so, are you actually adding to those bills? The looking forward doesn’t have to include such an expense. Of course, the holiday adverts are running thick and fast at present – tempting trips to far flung places, irresistible visits to Disneyland for children. Ideas seeded in impressionable minds to be used to pressurise parents! You know how it goes – ‘but I REALLY want to go’, ‘everyone else in my class has been’, ‘PLEEEEAAS can we go’ ...and on and on. Any explanation of cost, a struggle to afford such a trip being a consideration that doesn’t affect such eagerness.

POSITIVE SPINS TO PUT ON THE DAY

Samaritans branches are spinning from Blue Monday to BREW Monday, with brew and chat sessions being offered in some places.

Do some exercise, whether this is dancing around to your favourite tracks or getting out for a walk in nature – no matter what the weather.  Go for a swim, or rake those leaves that are still on your lawn. Remember not to move any small piles in among the borders of your garden as they could well be being used as homes for hedgehogs and other garden visitors.

Make a start at that hobby, crafting that you just haven’t got round to – as I keep reminding you, being creative is great for your mental health.

Watch a funny film, a good old rom-com, or an uplifting film – either on your television, or meet up with a friend and go to the cinema. It would be rude not to throw in a coffee and a catch up for good measure – be this during the day, or after work.

In lieu of that unaffordable holiday, plan a day out with the family in Spring, another a bit later?

Mental Health UK provided online materials and suggestions for 2019’s Blue Monday which are obviously as applicable to this year. for ways of helping your day or brightening that of a friend, especially one who may be in need of such a lift.

WHY NOT THINK OF THE COLOUR BLUE's POSITIVIES

Whilst the colour blue may have been waylaid to denote a low mood, it is also used in many other contexts. We have blue blood and blue collar workers – seemingly two extremes of a continuum involving aspects of society! Events, happenings are described as coming out of the blue or as a bolt from the blue. Events which may be positive or negative.

It is suggested in colour meanings.com that blue, in its many shades, is thought of as being tranquilising with a positive effect on our mind. It represents patience and understanding therefore a comfortable colour with which to be surrounded; a colour often found in surgeries, hospitals due to its calming influence. The site tells us that – ‘Blue has no time for baseless fears. Blue inspires us to live in the present and bid farewell to our stress. By creating an air of serenity, it does just that. On a particularly challenging day, consider looking up at the sky. You’ll find an oasis of calm gazing up at the clouds.’ So, far removed from those supposed negative blue feelings that give the colour a bad press.

As for myself, I find the blue to be a relaxing, calming colour to have around me. It can lead me to memories of waves gently, almost therapeutically, ;aping the shore - rolling in and out, in and out. If the backdrop is a beautiful blue sky, so much the better.

I also think of the wonderful bulbs that will soon be moving from their green shoots to their wonderful blue flowers out in my garden. The hyacinths, the muscari or grape hyacinths heralding a spring that is slowly heading our way.

Whilst blue reminds me of those beaches I have visited on past holidays, others may be reminded of their favourite football team and the times spent yelling them on from the terraces or the television. Probably a mix of good and bad memories with a dose of pre-VAR we were robbed stories. Strangely replaced with postVAR versions.

For myself, when I seek the positive support of the colour blue, I have to look no further than the owner of that pair of wonderful blue eyes in the picture back at the beginning. Myschka, whose flash of blue eyes led me to know that he would make a wonderful companion for me.

Blue can be such a positive colour – don’t let it spoil your Monday, or any other day!

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