Every year, the third Monday of January is dubbed “Blue Monday”. The concept was originally coined in 2004 by psychologist Cliff Arnall. He came up with a “formula” for the January blues after he was asked to do so by travel firm Sky Travel, who then used the phrase in a press release to promote their winter deals.
However, prioritising mental health has never been more important than it is now & in these difficult times, it’s crucial to remember your mental health still matters!
January can be a great month for many different reasons, most of all that a new year has just begun that we can use to fulfil our New Year’s resolutions and achieve any number of other things we’ve decided to put out minds to. However, a cold, cloudy January can also be quite the comedown after the festive holiday season that preceded it.
Mental health ‘good and bad’ days are individual to each of us. It is pointless to try and identify what the most depressing day of the year is because it would be different for each one of us. As different as each person’s circumstances are. And it is also important to distinguish between temporarily feeling down, which we all relate to from time to time, and experiencing depression or a mental health problem that can be quite disabling for our day to day lives.
Perhaps the true meaning of Blue Monday is that we all have mental health and that there are steps that we can take on every day of the year to try and protect it. We should not just be thinking about our mental health on 20th January this year, but on every day of the year. Depression and other mental health problems last for more than a day. And mental health problems can affect people in different ways on any day of the year.
Arnall took into account a number of factors likely to contribute to low mood, Arnall has since confessed that the formula is essentially pseudoscience and has urged Brits to “refute the whole notion” of Blue Monday.
D = debt
d = monthly salary
T = time since Christmas
Q = time since failing our new year’s resolutions
M = low motivational levels
Na = the feeling of a need to take action
Mental health matters on every day of the year. Mental Health is more than one day, it’s important all year round, 365 days a year. It’s important yesterday, today and tomorrow. You are never alone, if you need someone to talk to, it’s okay to ask for help – a family member, friend or professional help! It’s okay to not be okay & it’s okay to talk! Below are some tips about the different factors.
Martin Lewis from the Money Saving Expert has written a guide which is not only aimed at people experiencing mental health problems, but friends, family and carers who want to help them tackle their finances.
It was written with guidance from several leading charities and organisations, including Mind, Rethink, Christians Against Poverty and others.
Also, Wayne Anthony has wrote a guide to Tax Debt and Mental Health. The guide offers lots of helpful information, please click below to read the guide!
Time since Xmas & the Coronavirus pandemic
You might be worried about Coronavirus (COVID-19) and how it could affect your life. This may include being asked to stay at home or avoid other people.
- Avoid watching, reading or listening to news that could cause you to feel anxious or distressed.
- Seek information mainly to take practical steps to prepare your plans and protect yourself and your loved ones.
- Seek information updates at a specific time during the day once or twice. The sudden and near-constant stream of news reports about an outbreak can cause anyone to feel worried.
- Stay connected with people, ring people/ video call people to check-in, to talk about anything.
- Distract yourself with the things you enjoy.
- Avoid burnout, it’s important to have time to yourself and give yourself regular breaks.
- Plan events and stuff to do for when this is all over, something to look forward to, enjoying friends/family company, doing stuff that you may have took for granted.
- Continuing to access nature, sunlight wherever possible, exercise, eat well, stay hydrated and sleep well.
- Know it’s okay not to feel okay, speak to people if you are feeling worried, sad or distressed.
- Talk to your GP or mental health team if you need the extra support, it is okay to talk, and even in this pandemic, they are there to help.
Time since failing our new year’s resolutions
A very small, handful number of people complete the resolutions they set out for at the start of the new year. You can always restart and re focus whenever you like. It is possible that you might fail or slip up. Accept this failure; own it and forgive yourself. Being harsh on yourself will only do you more harm so instead learn from what went wrong and instead of bailing on the resolution at the end of next year, see it through until you reach your goal.
Always keep trying each day. January 1st may be the first day of the year, but every day is an opportunity to reset and resolve to move towards your goals. No matter what you’re hoping for in this year, preparing for it with a renewed focus on your mental health is a fantastic way to lay the best foundation possible.
Low motivational levels
Dark mornings and short days, compounded by cold wet weather and, for some, the arrival of credit card bills demanding payment for the excesses of Christmas, can certainly make January a difficult month for some. But it’s okay to be feeling the January blues. Below are some steps to beat the January blues
Exercise. Physical activity is well known for beating stress and lifting mood. Depression is linked to low serotonin levels in the body and serotonin can be boosted by exercise. Serotonin is also boosted by sunlight so make the most of any January sunlight and get outdoors. Some scientists also believe that exercise increases self-esteem and gives individuals a sense of control about how they look and feel. The NHS recommends that adults do 150 minutes of moderate exercise each week (e.g. fast walking or cycling).
Build relationships. Research shows that creating strong friendships and connections with family and the wider community can boost feelings of wellbeing. Make more of an effort this month to see the people you want to get to know better. For example, try having lunch with a colleague; create some family time (perhaps by playing a board game instead of watching the TV); catch up with old friends; volunteer for a community group.
Food. Good diet is strongly linked to wellbeing and happiness and some foods are thought to boost mood. Sweet potatoes, bananas, lentils, green vegetables and oatmeal are all recommended for their minerals, nutrients and slow-release energy-giving properties. Regular meals, five portions or fruit and veg a day and plenty of fluids are all encouraged to maintain a good, stable mood throughout.
Giving something back. Volunteering your spare time to good causes is seen as a brilliant way to improve wellbeing by boosting feelings of self-esteem. Working with other people in the community will help you to improve your connections and give you a sense of achievement and purpose. Giving takes many forms: it could be as little as saying thank you or well done, giving up your seat on the bus, doing DIY for a neighbour or helping a community group.
Mindfulness. Take a moment to enjoy the world around you; the sights and sounds and smells. As life gets increasingly hectic, mindfulness offers the opportunity to step off the merry-go-round, take stock and enjoy the moment.
Also take a look at this blog which is a guide a guide for parents about teen Mental Health.
Below are some Twitter accounts and a link to Hull support.
👉@MindHEY 👉@mentalhealth 👉@XenZone_UK
👉@samaritans 👉@heads_together 👉@NHSHullCCG
👉@HullAmc 👉@CHCPHull 👉@YoungMindsUK @PWS_LetsTalk
Sources: Mind, Mental Health Foundation, The Mirror, Stylist.co.uk, moneysavingexpert, youngminds,