Blue Monday is cited as being the most depressing day of the year, but what actually is it and what makes this day so depressing? This year Blue Monday will be taking place on the 15th January 2024. Find out more here.
What is Blue Monday 2024?
Blue Monday occurs every year on the third Monday of January. The day is sometimes referred to as the “most depressing day of the year”, and whilst it always takes place on a different date, the day is always the third Monday of January.
The concept was originally developed in 2005 by a British psychologist named Dr. Cliff Arnall, who created a formula to calculate this specific date as the day when various factors, such as weather conditions, post-holiday debt, low motivation, and the length of time since Christmas, all converge to make people feel particularly down, depressed or “blue.”
In 2024, Blue Monday would fall on January 15th, when the majority of people are facing work after being back from the holiday period. However, it’s important to note that the idea of Blue Monday has faced criticism and is often seen as a marketing gimmick rather than a scientifically valid concept.
Mental health experts argue that depression and mood fluctuations cannot be accurately predicted based on a single day or formula, as depression is a complex and multifaceted condition influenced by various factors.
Nonetheless, Blue Monday has become a part of popular culture and is sometimes used as an opportunity to raise awareness about mental health issues and promote self-care and well-being during what can be a challenging time of the year for some people.
What Are the January Blues?
Similar to Blue Monday, the January blues are another way to describe low mood during January. Due to the end of the festive period, the cold and dark weather, and work requirements, January is a challenging month for many people.
There are several factors that contribute to the January Blues. Notably common ones include:
- Post-Holiday Letdown: After the festive holiday season in December, January can feel like a letdown. The excitement, social gatherings, and festivities of the holidays are over, and people often return to their regular routines, which can be less exciting.
- Winter Weather: January is often wet and cold with shorter days and less sunlight. This lack of sunshine and exposure to natural light can lead to a condition known as Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), which is characterised by symptoms of depression. Seasonal Affective Disorder is something that can play into the January blues.
- Financial Stress: The holiday season often involves increased spending on gifts, travel, and celebrations. In January, many people face the reality of their post-holiday financial situation, which can lead to stress and anxiety.
- New Year’s Resolutions: People often set ambitious New Year’s resolutions in January, and the pressure to stick to these goals can lead to feelings of disappointment or failure if they are not met. By the third Monday of January, many New Year’s resolutions are broken which can cause low mood.
- Return to Work: Many individuals return to work after the holiday break, and the transition from a more relaxed schedule to a demanding routine can be challenging and contribute to feelings of stress and fatigue.
- Social Isolation: Increased isolation and loneliness are commonly experienced in January, and paired with the cold weather, darkness and stress, all contribute to a low mood, particularly experienced on Blue Monday 2024.
It’s important to note that the January Blues are a common experience for many people, and they are usually temporary. However, for some individuals, these feelings can persist and may be indicative of a more serious mood disorder, such as clinical depression.
If you find that your January Blues are severe, prolonged, or significantly impacting your daily life, it’s advisable to seek support from a mental health professional who can provide guidance and assistance in managing these emotions.
How to Beat Blue Monday
Keeping your mood high on Blue Monday and overcoming feelings of sadness and low motivation during the winter months doesn’t have an exact cure, however there are several strategies you can try to improve your mood and well-being. Some of these include:
Prioritise self-care activities that make you feel good. This could include taking a warm bath, reading a book, or enjoying your favourite comfort food.
Tackling low mood in January also requires getting plenty of restful sleep. A good night’s sleep can significantly impact your mood and energy levels.
Stay Active, Exercise and Eat Well
Engage in regular physical activity throughout January, including on Blue Monday 2024. Even if it’s just a short walk or some light stretching, exercise can release endorphins which are natural mood lifters. Eating healthy meals is also good for your physical and mental health.
Connect with Friends and Family
Socialise with friends and family, as spending time with loved ones can provide emotional support and boost your mood. Consider joining clubs or groups with shared interests to meet new people and combat loneliness.
Practice stress-reduction techniques, such as deep breathing, meditation, or yoga, to help you stay calm and centred.
Set Realistic Goals for January
Break down your tasks into smaller, manageable goals to reduce overwhelming feelings. Achieving these smaller goals can give you a sense of accomplishment, especially if your New Year’s resolution has already been broken by the time it is Blue Monday 2024.
Plan Fun Activities
Make plans to do activities that you enjoy, as having something to look forward to can be motivating and improve your mood.
Exposure to Light
If possible, spend time outdoors during daylight hours, as natural light can have a positive impact on your mood. You should consider using a light therapy lamp if you experience symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), which often worsens during the winter months, especially in January.
Seek Professional Help
If you find that feelings of sadness, anxiety, or depression persist and significantly interfere with your daily life, consider seeking support from a mental health professional. Therapy or counselling can provide effective strategies for managing these emotions. You can also see our 5 mental health tips here.
What to do on Blue Monday 2024
It is normal to have occasional low days, and you don’t have to face them alone. Reach out to friends, family, or a therapist if you need support. Be proactive about your well-being, and don’t let the concept of “Blue Monday” define your mood or outlook for the entire year.
Follow the above tips to help you manage the January Blues, which may be experienced the most on Blue Monday.