It’s sort of officially Blue Monday on Monday January 16th – the third Monday of January – symbolically the most depressing day of the year.
And it provides a great opportunity to promote greater understanding about mental well-being, positive psychology, or just an excuse to have a good time. And also for you to harness the power of memes in your life.
There is no formal data to quantify the mood and state of people’s thinking on the particular day of ‘Blue Monday’ (originally defined by the psychologist Cliff Arnall as the third Monday of January. I built upon this and developed the meme of ‘Blue Monday’).
We do however have some informal ‘data’: since 2005 the story and meme this of Blue Monday has grown and grown in terms of media coverage and people’s conversations, even a top Twitter trend.
Evidence of an undefined modern phenomena, a zeitgeist – a mood of a time – perhaps indicating an under-the-surface feeling people share. Modern trends, such as the monthly pay check, credit card bills, and a unfulfilled New Year’s resolutions and many people receiving their December pay cheque on Christmas Eve, making January a ‘five week month’ in terms of pay, all create a wave of discontentment – which until Blue Monday became a reality, was unrecognised.
Why is Christmas Day on December 25th? One theory is that the early Christians merely piggy-backed on the existing Pagan ritual of celebrating mid winter. Seemingly, our ancestors perhaps wanted some cheering up in the middle of a bleak season. By linking the new Christian celebration with an existing Pagan celebration it created a bigger occasion.
In the 21st century, even though surveys show a decline in religious belief and attendances at Christian churches in the UK, Christmas as a celebration keeps going and growing.
Because people want it to be: it fulfils other emotional, psychological and sociological needs.
The origins of Blue Monday may have been contrived. Yet, as a symbolic day even if it could generate less than 1% of that raised by say Comic Relief, this would realize £500,000 a year for good causes, particularly for mental well-being.
Blue Monday can create a precious talking point and potential media hook for subjects which face difficulty getting a hearing, such as mental health, depression and suicide.
It also creates a welcome opportunity for positive well-being and asserting happiness and joy in the world.
One previous Blue Monday I listened to a local BBC Radio station which played a series of uplifting, good mood enhancing songs, accompanying a live outside broadcast from a school where youngsters had their jokes aired, (“Why did the chicken cross the playground? To get to the other slide!” was a typical effort.)
The show later got a text from a woman, who was foster mother to one of the children who had their jokes broadcast. She was delighted how it would boost the youngster’s confidence and self-esteem.
Doesn’t that make you feel good?