Blue Monday has officially arrived - although you wouldn’t believe it in many parts of the UK today (17 January) given the bright sunshine.
Today is the day we’re meant to be feeling at our lowest in 2022.
With the highs of Christmas and New Year now a distant memory, and today being pretty much at the heart of deepest, darkest winter, it might seem possible that Blue Monday is a real thing.
But is this actually the case? And, if you are struggling with low mood this month, what could potentially make you feel better?
Here’s what you need to know.
What is Blue Monday?
Any month following December has an impossibly hard act to follow.
So, it’s unfortunate for January that it finds itself in this position every year.
This month can feel like an almighty slog given the cold, dark evenings and post-Christmas comedown.
Blue Monday is meant to be the focal point of this bad feeling.
But, despite Blue Monday’s existence being widely acknowledged, there’s actually no scientific evidence of its existence.
In fact, it was borne out of a PR stunt.
The concept of Blue Monday first came into public knowledge in 2004, when holiday firm Sky Travel tasked psychologist Cliff Arnall with concocting a scientific formula for the January blues.
When is Blue Monday?
It always falls on the third Monday of January, which happens to be today (17 January).
But it doesn’t have to be a blue day.
Suicide prevention charity Samaritans has coined a new term for the day - ‘Brew Monday’ - a positive day when it says people should reach out to friends, family and colleagues over a cup of tea to make sure they’re feeling alright, or help them to keep their pecker up if they aren’t.
Samaritans says we all have good and bad days, and that a calendar date cannot determine when we feel certain things.
It also says its Brew Monday idea should not only be a thing you do today, or in January, but at any time of the year.
How can you beat the January blues?
While Blue Monday is a myth, the January blues are a real thing.
As well as the comedown from the excitement of Christmas and New Year, around two million people in the UK are affected by a medical condition called Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD).
SAD symptoms include:
- sleep problems
- feeling down and unsociable
But there are some simple things you can do to help you through any tough days.
It is important to note that if you are really struggling with your mental health, you should seek out advice from a mental health or medical professional.
While many people start January with a ‘new year, new me’ attitude, you don’t have to run up and down steep hills to make yourself feel better.
Walking in the middle of the day for an hour can be a very effective means of beating back the blues, according to the NHS.
Given it is often in short supply in winter, it is important to get enough sunlight.
But it can also be helpful to spend time in and around nature, according to advice from the British Medical Journal (BMJ).
You don’t have to rip up your diet and go vegan for January to eat more healthily.
The NHS recommends balancing your craving for carbohydrates, like pasta, with plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables.
Talk to friends and family or seek help
As Samaritans has suggested with its Brew Monday campaign, talking to other people can help you cope with feeling low.
The charity also offers support over the phone, via email or online. Other mental health charities, like Mind, also have a variety of services you can use.
But just speaking to friends and family can do a world of good.
Putting some events in your diary or even just planning a small weekend activity can help you to look forward.
But don’t be afraid to reminisce either.
Recalling and revisiting happy memories can bring about positive feelings and can improve your wellbeing, advice in the BMJ states.
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