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Blue Monday rolls around every year on the third Monday of January. It’s touted as the ‘most depressing day of the year’ – but why? Who decided that this day is so ‘depressing’?

What Exactly is Blue Monday?

According to Sky News, Blue Monday was created in 2004 by psychologist Dr Cliff Arnall. The purpose of the project was to help holiday company ‘Sky Travel’ sell holiday packages – which is why the concept of Blue Monday has drawn much criticism over the years.

Arnall’s formula takes into account a number of factors that may negatively affect an individual’s mental health in the aftermath of the festive season. This includes factors such as:

  • Worsening weather conditions
  • Holiday debt and
  • Failed New Year’s resolutions

However, it’s important to note that there is no real, academic evidence that suggests Blue Monday is actually more ‘depressing’ than any other day of the year. In fact, Dr Arnall even apologised in 2018 for “making January more depressing”. He has since claimed that “January is actually a great time to make those big decisions for the year ahead.”

At The Lily-Jo Project, we see Blue Monday as an opportunity to send out positive vibes during the thick of winter.

We recognise that depression doesn’t magically appear on the third Monday of January. However, we also know that many people do struggle with their mental health during the winter months – for example, an estimated 2 million people in the UK experience seasonal affective disorder (SAD).

7 Practical Tips for Looking After Your Mental Health in Winter

We can all benefit from taking proactive measures to maintain good mental health during winter. Here are seven practical tips that can help you do just that!

Prioritise the fundamentals

In a recent interview with Manchester World, Lily-Jo stressed the importance of prioritising the fundamentals of your well-being during winter.

This includes:

  • Water: Making sure that you’re drinking the recommended 6 to 8 cups of fluid a day.
  • Exercise: Making sure you’re getting at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity activity a week to boost your natural endorphins.
  • Diet: Making sure that you’re consuming foods and drinks that nourish your body.
  • Sleep: Making sure to get the recommended 7 to 9 hours of sleep each night.

Maintaining these four areas of your health is one of the best ways to keep your mind and body balanced during the winter months.

Shift your mindset

If the thought of Blue Monday is getting you down – take a moment to shift your mindset! Remember, Blue Monday is not real. We all have ‘good’ and ‘bad’ days throughout the year. Ignore the campaigns if you have to and focus on all the things that you’re enjoying in your daily life.

Set some goals

Setting goals is a great way to give yourself something to look forward to and build your confidence. And the best part is that you can set goals for yourself year-round, not just on the first of January.

Get outside

Being outside in nature and breathing in fresh air is so, so good for our mental health. In winter especially, it’s important to get outside when it’s not raining or snowing. Even just a 15-minute walk around your neighbourhood can do wonders for your well-being.

Celebrate small wins

Did you manage to write in your journal for the first time in years? Did you go vegan for a week? Try a new exercise class? You don’t have to wait until the end of the year to celebrate a ‘big’ accomplishment. Even the smallest of goals are worth celebrating – and they help us build momentum throughout the year.

Make some plans

One of the best gifts you can give yourself is something to look forward to. Think about your year ahead – what would you like to squeeze in? A seaside picnic? A visit with an old friend? An adventure to a new city? Now is the perfect time to start making fun, creative plans for the year.

Ask for help

If you find yourself continuing to struggle with your mental health – reach out for help. One of our contributors, Clare, who was diagnosed with bipolar disorder offers the following advice:

“Don’t hide behind a mask of ‘I’m fine’. Even though we live in an ‘I’m fine’ culture, if you’re not fine don’t pretend to be – it’s exhausting for yourself to keep up this persona, and it’s unhelpful for those around you who could be supporting you instead of believing everything is fine.”

“Let them know how they can help, practically and emotionally. Whether it’s a friend to sit with you during low times, practical help with shopping or help leaving the house, let your trusted loved ones know how they can help you, because you deserve the help.”

 

Celebrate ‘Brew Monday’ Instead

We just love this campaign from Samaritans. Brew Monday takes place every year on the third Monday of January (the same day as Blue Monday), and it’s a day where people are encouraged to “reach out for a cuppa and a catch-up with the people you care about.”

Learn more on the Samaritan’s website here: Brew Monday

Final Thoughts

If you are in crisis and need immediate support this winter, there are a number of different helplines available here in the UK:

You can also always explore our self-help resource here at The Lily-Jo Project, which features top tips, personal stories, and practical advice for maintaining good mental health. 

Further Resources on Mental Health & Winter

If you found this article helpful, check out these additional recommended resources on winter well-being:

Stay on top of all the important dates and campaigns in the world of mental health with the help of this handy calendar provided by The Lily-Jo Project:

Download your FREE 2024 Mental Health Awareness Day Calendar.

For practical tips on using your calendar in your place of work, check out our blog article: Celebrating Wellbeing Year-Round.

Want to stay up to date with our latest mental health resources? Subscribe to our monthly newsletter!

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About the Author: Shelby Hale

Shelby has been with The Lily-Jo Project since 2018, serving as the platform’s Content and Communications Manager. Having lived in four different countries throughout her young adulthood, Shelby is passionate about the positive impact new experiences can have on mental health. 

When she’s not working with The Lily-Jo Project, she supports other projects through her creative agency, Hale Marketing and Communications. If you’d like to stay updated with Shelby’s story, you can find her on Instagram and LinkedIn.

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