21 January 2019
If I told you right now that today you need to feel great, you’d think that I was mad, wouldn’t you? So why then do we accept that today, we’re supposed to feel down?
For the past few years, ‘Blue Monday’ has been building momentum across social media, with many brands jumping onto the trend to market products, offer discounts and share memes. Of course, the penultimate week of January is cold and grey. Payday seems like a distant memory and a tomorrow that’s never coming. And, by the 16th, most people have given up on at least one of their New Year’s Resolutions. However, that doesn’t mean you have to feel down.
With social media awash with messaging around ‘the most depressing day of the year’, it’s worth remembering this was a day cooked up by marketing professionals to sell more of their products to make you feel better.
An opportunity for change
We have a choice. When you recognise that you’re feeling a bit low, you can continue to focus on the negative emotions and low energy or you can use it as an opportunity to change. Sometimes we need these markers to spur us into action – like New Year, birthdays and now, Blue Monday!
If you’re not where you want to be, why not see today as a wake-up call to make a change. Why are you low? What do you need to feel better? What change do you need to make?
For me, exercising is the number one way to get the cogs turning once more. Setting a new goal that I am passionate about is the second way, and a more long-term option to stay motivated and keep my energy up. We all have different ways to feel better, how can you find yours?
One of the most dangerous parts of Blue Monday is that it being called ‘the most depressing day of the year’ could very easily trivialise real mental illness. Philippa Bradnock, information manager at mental health charity Mind, said: “The third Monday in January is often dubbed ‘Blue Monday’, the so-called most depressing day of the year. Despite the fact the phrase originates from an advertising campaign and there is no credible evidence to show that one day in particular can increase the risk of people feeling depressed, the myth of Blue Monday continues to persist.
“…However, low mood is not the same as depression. Depression can be extremely debilitating and people experiencing depression may feel hopeless, see no point in the future, feel disconnected from friends and family and experience suicidal thoughts. Depression is not just a one day event, it can happen at any time of year. Trivialising such a serious illness by suggesting its symptoms can be experienced in a single day belittles the experiences of people who deal with symptoms regardless of the time of year.”
Thankfully, it seems that this year, many brands and charities are aligning to make today less of a marketing ploy and more of an opportunity to support those who are really struggling, today and any other day. Again, it’s an opportunity; an opportunity to continue a positive conversation around mental health, reducing the stigma.
So, if you can, don’t fall for the marketing tricks telling you to feel bad. Take a few moments to feel great, go for a run, play your favourite song, set a new goal. Do whatever it is that puts a fire in your belly.