Blue Monday is everywhere this time of year. The third Monday in January is often seen as the saddest day of the year. The date is several weeks after Christmas, several weeks before payday, smack bang in the middle of some dreary winter months, and this year in the middle of another national lockdown. However, identifying Blue Monday as ‘the saddest day in the year’ is incorrect, and an idea that even its originator, Dr Cliff Arnall, is trying to fight with positivity.
Dr Arnall ‘identified the date… in a bid to encourage people, where possible, to take a positive outlook on the time of year as an opportunity for new beginnings and change.’
So there you have it, Blue Monday is pseudoscience. It’s a term that has been misunderstood and twisted into a scary date when it should instead be seen as a time to make positive changes and look for new opportunities.
Is there any truth to January blues?
That isn’t to say January, and ostensibly winter isn’t a tough time for many: Seasonal affective disorder, dreary weather, and of course, the past year of lockdowns.
However, even with the obvious factors leading to a difficult time for many, studies have shown that 10% to 20% of recurrent depression peaks around the change of the seasons. This means people are more often affected by the change from autumn to winter and the end of spring and summer. So rather than a specific day, it’s more important to understand that the changing seasons affect health and wellbeing.
What about hating Mondays?
This phenomenon is well-known, however, it has nothing to do with the month but more the workweek in general. A study by Osaka University and Waseda University in Japan found that the number of suicides by middle-aged men rises on Monday mornings. Highly stressful workweeks are a major factor in these cases and show how important mental health and wellbeing is in the workplace.
How can you combat feeling down?
Like Dr Arnall says while Blue Monday is pseudoscience, it’s a good opportunity to raise awareness about mental health and remember that health and wellbeing is something to take care of every day, not just one day a year.
In the workplace, this means providing your team with access to mental health services and support. You can also motivate your team to get outside and capture as much natural light as possible. Exercise and diet are just as important and can improve mood and efficiency significantly.
If you can, help employees who need financial support and information. People feel the need to overspend during Christmas and often end up suffering in the early part of the year from stress and debt.
Look after you and your team’s mental health every day. Depression and stress are some of the greatest health challenges our society faces and it’s important to not trivialise this experience to just one day a year.
At CUBE HR, we practice HR differently. We believe that happy employees make happy customers, making your business thrive. We specialise in making workplaces happy and productive.
If you need a full HR service or assistance with a specific project, our HR packages are tailored to your needs. We also offer a free HR Health Check and Risk Assessment and are happy to answer any questions you may have. Contact us now and experience award-winning HR services.