When is Blue Monday?
Blue Monday is usually the third Monday of every New Year and is considered the most “depressing” day on the calendar. In 2022, that’s the 17th of January. It’s so depressing that New Order even wrote a song with the same title, but why is it so sad? Well, between the dark and gloomy weather, being unable to shift those Christmas pounds and realising the weight of the financial decisions we have made over the Christmas period no wonder why so many people feel blue.
This year we have the added pressure of the Omicron variant of Covid 19. The rise in hospital cases and being unable to plan for the future as we are uncertain whether or not we are headed for another Lockdown to begin this year. Here at Open Theatre, we want to acknowledge everyone’s emotions. Whatever you are feeling this month it is perfectly valid and if planning for the future feels overwhelming right now, then that’s ok too.
Where did Blue Monday come from?
The idea of ‘Blue Monday’ appears to have begun in 2005, in a press release from a now-outdated holiday company and TV channel Sky Travel. They claimed to have used an equation to calculate the date. That original press release appeared to have been written by Dr Cliff Arnall a tutor at Cardiff University’s Centre for Lifelong Learning (Peat, 2018). However, Guardian writer Ben Goldacre – known for his Bad Science column and series of books – revealed that the press release was sent pre-written by a PR company to a number of academics, who were offered money to put their name to it, very fishy indeed. (Goldacre, 2014)
How is Blue Monday ‘calculated’?
The press release claimed Blue Monday was reached by “taking into account various factors” such as average temperature, days since the last payday, days until the next bank holiday, average hours of daylight, and the number of nights in during the month.
It doesn’t take much effort to see the true purpose of Sky Travel’s press release – selling more holidays! According to Dr Dean Burnett, a tutor at Cardiff University’s division of psychological medicine and clinical neurosciences, “there are so many reasons to believe [the Blue Monday equation is] nonsense. (Burnett, 2020).
Despite lending his name to the concept, Arnall himself now campaigns against the idea of Blue Monday via his Twitter account stating that he never intended to make January more depressing, rather he wished people to take control of their lives in order to see what they could do to make themselves feel happier in January.
Why is Blue Monday still a thing?
Over 15 years on, despite its pseudo-scientific origins, Blue Monday still trends on social media every year. That’s mainly down to the PR industry, which uses Blue Monday as a chance to push their products, whether they be wellbeing products, fitness items, or other self-improvement and happiness boosting tools. Now it has become ever popular with life coaches and internet Psychologists wishing to promote their work and their wellbeing articles.
But a lot of good has come of the date too.
In 2020, Samaritans handed out cups of tea at Edinburgh’s Waverley station alongside the police, to help morning commuters get through the day, encouraging them to share a cup of tea with someone in their office who may be feeling lonely.
The charity is pushing for the day to become known as ‘Brew Monday’, a day when connecting with others over a cuppa can help weather the ups and downs of life. “All you need is a kettle and some mugs, and this could make a huge difference in someone’s life,” they said. (Samaritans, 2020)
So whether it’s a load of nonsense or not, Blue Monday at least encourages others to discuss loneliness, and it gets people talking about depression, even if only momentarily. At a time when it’s more important than ever to reach out, that can only be a good thing surely?
What Open Theatre are doing to keep from feeling Blue
As a growing theatre company, it can be hard for us when planning is put on hold due to circumstances outside of our control such as Covid 19. However, several of our participants and staff have given advice on what they do to keep themselves from feeling blue this month. Company director Richard Hayhow says “when I am feeling Blue, I sleep more, I remember that even though things are feeling bad right now nothing stays the same. I also think about others’ lives that are far more challenging than mine. I get connected with someone else, particularly the young people that we work with and I always remember to have trust in the moment.” Associate director Melissa Daly says “I like to spend time with my dogs to help me relax. I also like to have a nice hot bath.”
Madeleine Levy content writer for OTC Social media says “I do Yoga once a week to stop me from feeling blue. Just having that time to myself to stretch and check in with myself and my body is so valuable to me, it really does help me to stay refreshed.” Open Theatre Creative Enabler, Grace Smith says “I listen to happy music and sing along to it to help me feel better.” Open Theatre participant Alice Fry says “I stroke my dogs to make me feel happy. I also play with my hair as it helps me to calm down.” Open Theatre participant Lukan Smith says “I start to pray to God. That usually helps me to feel better.” So whatever you are feeling this month make sure you reach out to someone, connect and try to do whatever is right for you to help you feel happier. Until we meet again, from everyone at Open Theatre stay safe, keep your heads up and have a great New Year.
– Written by Madeleine Levy
– Image created by Ashley Tolley
Burnett, D. (2020) ‘Re-think Blue Monday’ The Cosmetic Shambles Network [Online] available from <https://cosmicshambles.com/words/blogs/deanburnett/rethink-blue-monday> [24/12/2021]
Goldacre, B. (2014) ‘Blue Monday Cash for stories.’ The Guardian [Online] Available from <https://www.badscience.net/2009/01/part-432-in-which-i-get-a-bit-overinterested-and-look-up-waaay-too-many-references/> [24/12/2021]
Nelson, A. (2021) Blue Monday 2021: what is it, why is it today – and the meaning behind the most depressing day of the year. The Scotsman [Online] Available From <https://www.scotsman.com/health/blue-monday-2021-what-is-it-why-is-it-today-and-the-meaning-behind-the-most-depressing-day-of-the-year-3088800> [22/12/2021]
Peat, J. 2018 ‘Man who coined the term ‘Blue Monday’ apologises for making January more depressing’ The independent. [Online] available from <https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/blue-monday-apology-depressing-january-misey-money-disposable-income-psychology-dr-cliff-arnall-a8143246.html> [24/12/2021]
Samaritans (2020) Brew Monday 2020 [Online] Available from <https://www.samaritans.org/branches/kirkcaldy/fundraising-activities/brew-monday-2020/> [24/12/2021]