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Blue Monday

Blue Monday

Where does Blue Monday come from?

Blue Monday was founded in 2004 by psychologist Cliff Arnall. Blue Monday is the third Monday in January. It is dubbed the 'most depressing day of the year' despite there being no empirical evidence to back this claim. Arnall factored in specific influences that are likely to contribute to a low mood in January:

  • Weather
  • Debt
  • Monthly salary
  • Time since Christmas
  • Time since failing new year’s resolutions.
  • The feeling of a need to act.
  • lacking the motivation to do so.

Can expecting a day to be bad (AKA Blue Monday) actually make it worse than it needs to be?

Did you know that a feeling actually only lasts for 90 seconds, yet we are all capable of manifesting a feeling to last for much longer, often hours or even days, this is due to a phenomenon called Negative bias and as humans we are all susceptible to this by focusing on a feeling and in turn make it last for longer than is sometimes good for us.

Therefore, if you are feeling negatively biased at that moment you are more likely to interpret things in a more negative way, causing you to react more to the negative events, faces, emotions, and even the expressions of others, therefore expecting something bad to happen e.g. Blue Monday can actually make it feel worse than it needs to be.

How can we reframe Blue Monday?

There are lots of things we can do to help ourselves reframe how we see Blue Monday, starting with reminding ourselves that Blue Monday is just one day and actually a myth, being no different to any other Monday. Giving yourself a little pep talk can often do the trick, however if you need a something a little more ‘heavy duty,’ then here are some practical tips to help you get through the day.

Stay clear of negative people, you know the type, the ones that drain your energy and make you feel like you have to plug yourself into the mains to recharge your battery.

Plan something nice for yourself to do today, whether its treating yourself to lunch or a nice cup of coffee & a cake in the local coffee shop. Pamper yourself and pick activities that are replenishing rather than depleting.

It may be tempting to isolate yourself and be alone with your negative thoughts and feelings, however reaching out to friends and expressing how you are feeling can lift your mood, most people are flattered to be the one you choose to confide in.

Remind yourself of good times, looking at photographs of holidays and happy times can be a welcome distraction as well as reminder that life can feel good, and this down feeling is only temporary.

What advice would you give to clients struggling this January? 

Doing something you love

The harsh reality of January can hit us all hard. Whilst we begin to count the financial cost of Christmas and settle back into routines, finding time for hobbies and doing the things we enjoy can feel difficult as we may lack motivation or feel down because the bad weather keeps us inside. However, wrapping up and going for a walk and switching off can have an enormous impact on your health and wellbeing. By doing something you love, you are taking time out of your busy schedule and putting yourself first. Try and make this a regular part of your working day!

Self-care matters

Self-care isn’t necessarily about what we can add to our already busy schedules. Self-care is about instilling some boundaries and accepting that there are only a finite number of hours in a day. Boundaries are healthy and help us to prioritise and co-ordinate our thoughts and actions.

Make the most of the daylight.

While it might not always seem appealing due to the cold and often grey weather, being outdoors in the daylight can make you feel better and give you more energy. Exposure to natural light increases the levels of serotonin in the brain, which is associated with improved mood and general wellbeing.


One of the best ways to improve wellbeing and mood is to incorporate some exercise into your week. A brisk walk with friends can be a great way to get some fresh air and release endorphins which will make you feel so much better.

Eat well

What we put in our bodies can make a huge difference to our mood. When feeling down, you’re more likely to eat foods that comfort you, often high in sugar or carbohydrates. Having a varied, balanced diet can work wonders to improve your mood as 90% of our serotonin and 50% of our dopamine comes from the food we eat, therefore making good food choices and eating food that nourishes us and improves our general wellbeing is key.

Get enough sleep.

Poor sleep can have a negative impact on your mental health and lead to you feeling irritable, anxious, and worried. It is super important to incorporate a healthy bedtime routine, going to bed at the same time each night and waking up at the same time each morning helps to regulate your circadian rhythm, which enhances our ability to function physically, mentally, and physiologically more effectively.

Speaking of which

Being tech smart and switch off
Being constantly connected to technology can negatively impact your mood as you can always feel ‘on’ and / or accessible to others. Getting into the habit of switching your phones and tablets off at least 90 minutes before you go to bed can help you to relax, feel less anxious and get a good night’s sleep.

Feeling overwhelmed or overloaded?

Working on setting healthy boundaries can make you feel happier and more in control of your life. Boundaries can be as fixed or flexible as we want them to be. It is totally dependent on the situation.

  • You can start with something small like learning to say ‘no’ and removing as opposed to adding more to what can at times feel like an endless to-do list, start with baby steps, and gradually build up your confidence and learn to take more control over your workload and wellbeing.
  • Stay consistent - once you have created boundaries, remember to live by them. If you have decided that you need a night once a week to yourself then, do it! Establishing some clear non-negotiables will help reinforce boundaries not only with yourself but with your family, friends, and work colleagues.

Allow space for positive affirmations.

When your alarm goes off at 7am, your heart can begin to sink at the thought of another day at work! Creating positive affirmations is about taking control of your mood, social space and reframing your thoughts and feelings. You can do this by:

  • Start your day with a positive quote or phrase.
  • Using social media mindfully can evoke positivity and collaboration.
  • Also, remember these positive affirmations should be with you throughout the week and being able to remind yourself of them will be useful as you face new challenges.

Be kind to yourself
Many people set unrealistic New Year resolutions and then feel a sense of deflation and failure when they can’t keep them. Remember to slow down and make some time for yourself. (please see setting boundaries above).

Signpost and seek help.

Do you know a colleague who is struggling or hasn't quite been themselves since they returned from the festive season? Maybe you are finding it hard to cope with the demands of the job. There is no shame in asking for help or to signpost a colleague.

January can be an incredibly busy, challenging, and stressful time for so many people. Feeling blue doesn’t mean you are alone, please seek help and support and speak to a professional counsellor / psychotherapist who can help you explore your emotions in a safe confidential space.

Make an appointment

If you would like to make an appointment with Lindsay you can use the online booking form to choose the type of session to suit you (Face to Face, Chat-room, Face-Time / Zoom, Phone Therapy, Skype Therapy, Text, Couples Therapy, Family Therapy).

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