Blue Monday, True?

Is Blue Monday actually the saddest day of the year? This week, should we curl up into a ball and wallow in our January mood? OR should we stop and think about where this phenomenon comes from?

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The third Monday in January is widely known as ‘Blue Monday’- the most miserable day of the year. It is a day dreaded by many. Christmas is over, payday hasn’t arrived, New Year’s Resolutions have been broken, and the light of day does not exist. You yearn for the summer sun. January can be difficult. January can feel long. But is this Monday really the worst day of the calendar year? Is ‘Blue Monday’ real?

Fortunately, it is not. ‘Blue Monday’ was cooked up by Sky Travel UK's marketing team in 2005 to try and sell more flights. It has absolutely no scientific backing. But sadly, the term has since embedded itself into our culture. This year #BlueMonday was quickly trending on twitter. Companies use it as a strategy to flog feel-good products, manifesting and capitalising on people’s January moods. We are made to feel worse on 'Blue Monday' so that we become more compliant consumers. 

But hey, ‘Blue Monday’ isn’t all bad. If you are willing to see through it, you could make this advertising spectacle work in your favour. Pret is a fantastic example. In 2016 Pret gave away 120,000 free hot drinks on 'Blue Monday' in an attempt to make people smile. This year, they gave out 50 random blue napkins per store, the customers who received the napkin could collect a free snack to add to their order. Shameless sales tactic? Perhaps. Free Snack? Yes please.

EasyJet also used 2016 to grow their ‘Blue Monday’ campaign; ‘Orange Monday’ was born. They held a social media competition challenging users to share their ‘most orange photo,’ to be in with the chance of winning free return flights to a European destination of their choice. It is rumoured that ‘Blue Monday’ 2016 randomly saw a nation-wide spike in the sales of orange jumpers, and Tesco's across the UK ran out of satsumas. Joking. But easyJet still use ‘Orange Monday’ to offer cut-priced plane tickets. So, you could take the campaign with a pinch of salt, and use it to make a few savings for the year ahead.

But, (getting serious now) it is important to recognise that ‘Blue Monday’ IS NOT REAL. Activists and psychologists have spoken out against ‘Blue Monday’ for potentially triggering those who suffer with mental illness and trivialising depression. Antonis Kousoulis, director of the UK’s Mental Health Foundation says that 'by saying this single day is the most depressing day of the year, without any evidence, we are trivialising how serious depression can be.' Depression is not a single day phenomenon.

Despite 'Blue Monday' being completely made-up, SAD- Seasonal Affective Disorder- is very real. SAD is a depression that comes and goes in a seasonal-like fashion, most commonly experienced in winter. The condition has been linked to a biochemical imbalance in the brain, prompted by less daylight hours and reduced sunlight exposure. SAD is widespread, and can be overwhelming, interfering with day-to-day life. Experts suggest getting outside as much as possible, or buying a light box. Increasing light-exposure can help.

The best thing that can be said about ‘Blue Monday’ (apart from the Pret chocolate bar and half-price tickets to Spain) is that it starts a conversation about mental wellbeing at a time when people may be struggling. Use ‘Blue Monday’ for your own good and to check in with others. Reset your focus on wellbeing, talk about your feelings, and go on a winter walk with a friend as soon as the sun reappears. 

By Grace Proctor.

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