Blue Monday: hit single or the most depressing day of the year?
Blue Monday – not the hit single by New Order – but ‘the most depressing day of the year’. Although New Orders infamous song does not actually include the phrase ‘Blue Monday’ and actually has no relation to the third Monday of January, perhaps there are hidden similarities between the song and the day. Throughout the song the narrator ponders on the maltreatment he constantly receives from someone or something he trusted and he finds it hard to believe that they turned out to be a bad influence on him due to the trust and love that blind him.
Critics believe the subject of the song to be about a woman, drugs or alcohol, but what if he is narrating on the hardships of life itself? Lead singer Bernard Sumner told the Guardian that the lyric “how does it feel” was born out of him being fed-up with journalists asking him that question. Throughout the song the theme of misfortune springs regularly, “I see a ship in the harbour, I can and shall obey. But if it wasn’t for your misfortunes, I’d be a heavenly person today”. The narrator is clearly relaying the fed-up feeling over and over again and it is this fed-upness that plagues Mondays, especially the third Monday of January – Blue Monday.
New Year Resolutions
Blue Monday falls on 17 January this year and if you are also feeling a fed-up sort of feeling, or perhaps a deeper-rooted sense of sadness, anxiety and stress, this is normal. By the third Monday of January it is common that people have started to give up on their New Year Resolutions. Some of the popular January challenges such as ‘Veganuary’ or ‘Dry January’ can begin to feel restrictive by mid-January when the reality has set in as to just how inconvenient and difficult it can be to make major lifestyle changes.
Not achieving the goals that we set, despite how small they may be, can lead us to feeling demoralised and sometimes even worthless. Rather than feeling down in the dumps about what may have gone wrong, it would be better to set more realistic goals for yourself for the coming months which are easier to adopt and integrate into your everyday life.
Talk, talk, talk
More telling research has proven that Blue Monday, or Monday depression is not just a concept based on false pretences despite many questioning the legitimacy of it. A study found that out of a total of 188,601 suicides, the frequency of suicide was highest on Monday and decreased throughout the week until Saturday. Moreover, for people in their teens and 20s, the probabilities of suicide on Monday were 9% and 10% higher, respectively, than those on Sunday. Evidently then, Blue Monday is not a concept that should be laughed at, it is in fact a growing issue.
So, what else can be done to help prevent this serious problem? The first and arguably most important step is to not keep your feelings and emotions pent up, open dialogue about mental health can help everyone heal. Whether that be writing a letter if you are afraid to talk face-to-face, talking to someone close to you, or talking to a therapist or psychologist. If you are unsure where to start, or do not know who you can talk to, then starting a journal and simply writing down your feelings and thoughts can begin to help.
Remember that you are not alone, many people will be going through the same experience as you. It is likely that after talking to someone that you will feel a great sense of relief, it really is a good place to start.
Nature makes us feel good
It should not be underestimated how important nature and green spaces are to the human mind. Those of us living in the concrete and brick jungle have perhaps never appreciated the areas of green space more than during the covid-19 pandemic. During lockdowns, many of us have found parks and gardens a source of calm and joy and a break from the stress of uncertainty.
The evidence of positive effects from nature includes studies on specific psychological conditions such as depression, anxiety and mood disorder. Access to nature has also been found to improve sleep and reduce stress, increase happiness and reduce negative emotions, promote positive social interactions and even help generate a sense of meaning to life. Perhaps every Monday, taking some time to go for a walk or even sit in a local park for just 15 minutes at lunch or after work can help when feeling depressed, anxious and stressed.
Exercise and diet
Of course, we are all aware how beneficial regular exercise is not just physically but mentally. However, many are unaware of how important a healthy and balanced diet is to our mental state too. People who exercise regularly tend to do so because it gives them a great sense of well-being. They feel more energetic throughout the day, sleep better at night, have sharper memories, and feel more relaxed and positive about themselves and their lives. As well the evident benefits of exercise, regular exercise helps reduce anxiety, depression, stress levels, PTSD and trauma and many other mental health disorders.
Fascinatingly your gut has its own nervous system, called the enteric nervous system (ENS). The ENS is two thin layers of more than 100 million nerve cells lining your gastrointestinal tract. The ENS can trigger significant emotional shifts by people suffering with bowel problems. For decades experts thought anxiety, depression and stress caused these issues, but in fact it is accepted that irritation in the gastrointestinal system may send signals to the central nervous system that trigger mood changes. Now more than ever the focus is being put on our bodies and how this affects our mental well-being rather than vice-versa.
Taking time to focus on oneself physically will really help how you feel entering the week and can perhaps change how you think about Mondays. Mental well-being is at the forefront of societal importance and has been now for some while. With suicide rates still increasing and more and more cases of mental health disorders, it really is time to be selfish. Get some fresh air in green spaces, talk to those around you, exercise regularly and importantly concentrate on what you put in your body. It can be hard to get the ball rolling but there are people around you that can and want to help, you are not alone.
If you or anyone you know requires help, please use the helplines and websites provided below.
116 123 – Samaritans hot line. Available 24 hours
0300 1020 505 – SOS Silence of Suicide. Available 4pm-Midnight
www.kooth.com – Free online mental wellbeing support