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Jan 12, 2021

What is Blue Monday and How to Cope

seasonal depression

Blue Monday, otherwise known as the most depressing day of the year, has been established as the third Monday of January. This year, that day will fall on the 18th, which raises the question: how was Blue Monday determined and how true to fact is it?           

As it turns out, Blue Monday began as part of a public relations campaign in 2005. A now defunct British television channel, known as Sky Travel, called for a Cardiff University professor to calculate the most depressing day of the year. He devised a formula based on the following factors: debt, monthly salary, weather, time since Christmas, time since failed quit attempt, low motivation levels, and the need to take action. By assigning the previous factors a numerical value, he came up with the third Monday of January. According to the formula, this is the day of the year with the lowest motivation levels and highest debt. When mixed in with gloomy weather and time passed since the emotional high of the holiday season, one can understand why this might be the saddest day of the year.          

While the formula used to pinpoint Blue Monday has been disproven by the scientific community, the concept of Blue Monday may not be so far-fetched. It is popular belief that Mondays overall tend to be the most taxing days of the week given their proximity to the end of the weekend. Although there might not be much scientific evidence to support "Blue Monday," when taking into consideration the often depressing return to routine and normalcy following the holidays, as well as holiday debt, failure to meet our past new year’s resolutions and proven seasonal depression, we can certainly conclude that people may feel overwhelmed or melancholic by the middle of January. So, what are some simple things we can do to combat this collective lull?

Hit the Hay Early:            

Make sure to go to bed early the Sunday prior to Blue Monday and take some time out before bedtime to reevaluate your nightly routine. It’s important to create a mindful nightly routine to help our body wind down at the end of the day. Some helpful practices to include are:  

  • limiting screen time at least 1 hour before bed
  • a skin care routine
  • a soothing activity like meditation, reading or stretching

To prepare for Blue Monday, consider indulging in an evening treat like hot chocolate or a nice warm bath to help you relax in addition to your usual routine. Finally, going to bed early ensures you hit your REM cycle earlier, and thus, wake up feeling energized and rested in the morning which can help set the stage for productivity, resulting in an overall better mood for the day.

Early Rise:

Just like getting to bed early is important, rising early is also paramount in having a successful and stress-free morning. Any Monday is already demanding enough without having to rush.

To start the day with a small success, make your bed as soon as you wake up. Doing a small productive activity produces a small sense of accomplishment that will motivate you to build on throughout the day.  An early rise also allows you to get in an exercise session, have breakfast, and get in the right mental space to take on the day. 

Engage in Mindfulness:

If you notice that Blue Monday is compounding with your Monday Blues to create the perfect storm, take a minute (or two) to step away and destress. Consider an anxiety relieving stretch, take 60 seconds to practice slow breathing, repeat positive affirmations or engage in a power pose to increase your confidence and overcome any creeping negative feelings.  

Reminisce With Coworkers:

An effective way to get over the post-holiday blues is to reminisce and share our holiday experiences with others. Try to engage in conversation with coworkers prior to starting work or at lunch and share some stories about your time away from the office. Reliving experiences is an effective way of holding on to good times and the positive emotions generated by them.

Do Away With Expectations:

Lastly, and perhaps the most important tactic in having a better Blue Monday, is to do away with expectations. If you are unable to get to bed early, or you still feel blue for whatever reason, don’t be too hard on yourself. Setting unrealistic expectations or demands about how we are supposed to feel is a sure way to end up feeling even worse. Remember to treat yourself with grace and know that Blue Monday is only temporary, and you will soon get back into the swing of things.

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