Blue Monday falls on the third Monday of January, just inside the start of the New Year but far enough from Christmas for the glitter to have faded. This is (apparently) the most miserable day of the entire year when we all realise we are failing at our resolutions and summer is nowhere to be seen. But what is it about this particular Monday that makes it such a depressing day?
The Blue Monday formula
Blue Monday was actually conceived by a PR company so the scientific basis for its existence is sketchy. However, there is some sense behind the idea that the first day back to work after the weekend in one of the greyest, coldest months of the year could make all of us want to take a duvet day. The various factors involved in calculating the “Blue Monday formula” are:
The weather – often grey, windy, stormy, cold and generally not much fun to leave the house in
Debt – according to comparison service uSwitch 9 out of 10 people end up with a debt hangover after Christmas. It’s often in mid-January that this really kicks in and you start to realise that taking out an extra credit card for all the food and gifts and parties now gone probably wasn’t worth it. And your credit card bill will be payable towards the end of the month!
Time elapsed since Christmas – the glitter is faded, you’ve had your time off and there are no more excuses to eat chocolate for breakfast
Time elapsed since making – and failing on – New Year’s resolutions. Most people break their resolutions by mid-January leading to feelings of failure and resentment
Lacking motivation – January is the month when motivation levels are the lowest
A desire to make change – January is also the month in which many of us start to identify the parts of our lives we don’t like and want to make change. However, we may be stuck with low motivation or high Christmas debt and so unable to do anything about it
When you look at it like that it’s not difficult to see why the theory behind Blue Monday tends to hold water. But what can you do about it?
Antidotes to Blue Monday
Make a plan. Whether it’s a plan for debt repayment, getting fit or finding a new job you’ll feel much less hopeless if you’ve decided on a way forward.
Do some exercise. Exercise releases endorphins and will instantly make you feel better even on the gloomiest day of the year.
See some friends. A problem shared is a problem halved. There’s nothing like spending time with those you love to provide an antidote to Blue Monday feelings
Throw away your New Year’s resolutions now. Instead, replace them with a daily intention to do something constructive
Be kind to yourself. It’s much more courageous, strong and constructive to give yourself a break rather than feeling bad about broken resolutions or punishing yourself over Christmas debt.
Dance to the upbeat “Blue Monday” by New Order!
Things to look forward to in 2018
If the above antidotes don’t work then remind yourself that there’s plenty to look forward to in 2018, including:
The Winter Olympics – taking place in Pyeongchang in February, this is your chance to distract yourself from winter gloom and get deep into the world of skating, skiing and bobsleigh.
Exceptional visual entertainment – from the return of Black Mirror and Westworld, to movies like Black Panther, Mary Poppins and more instalments in the Avengers and Jurassic World series and The Handmaid’s Tale season 2, there’s a lot to celebrate on screens big and small in 2018.
Frozen, the musical – now you can sing along to “Let it go” in a room full of hundreds of people doing the same. Very therapeutic.
A royal wedding – Meghan and Harry are tying the knot in May at Windsor Castle – not long to go now.
The World Cup – football fans rejoice because 2018 is the FIFA World Cup in Russia.
A royal baby – the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge are due to welcome the regal newborn in April so spring will be a season of lots of new starts.
Positive anniversaries – 2018 marks 100 years since the end of World War One, for example, as well as a century since women won the right to vote.
Beyonce at Coachella – even if you don’t go, even if you’re not a fan the performance is likely to be an uplifting, lively one.
The return of longer days – yes, it happens every year but it’s definitely something to look forward to. We’ve already passed the shortest day so summer is definitely coming.
Intergalactic insights – 2018 is due to be the year that commercial space travel finally becomes a reality. Plus, a robotic Mars lander will finally be launched into space after a two year delay.
Alex Hartley is a keen advocate of improving personal finance skills. She's worked at Solution Loans since 2014 and written hundreds of articles about how people can manage their money better. Her interest in personal finance goes way back to...Read more about Alex Hartley