For those of you, like me, who suffer with a mental illness that entails some form of depression, you’re either laughing right now, or crying. Or both. Because, I’m sure others can agree, the idea of there being a ‘most depressing day of the year’ actually sounds pretty great. I don’t know about you, but if I knew there was going to be one day where I’d be at my absolute lowest… well, at least I could plan for it. I could book the day off work. Stock up on my favourite comfort foods and save up that entire series on Netflix I’ve been tempted to binge watch every weekend. I’d stay in bed that extra hour (or two). I’d wait until the afternoon to take a shower - or even not take one at all. And I’d stay in my comfy clothes all day and not leave the house. And then, at the end of the day, when I’m back in bed at eight p.m, crying myself to sleep, feeling like a failure, I’d take comfort in the fact that this was my worst day. And no matter what happens, the rest of the year is going to be better than this. Honestly, that sounds amazing.
Because the reality is, it’s impossible to know when depression is going to hit you like a tonne of bricks. Every night when I go to bed I don’t know which side I’m going to wake up on the next day. I don’t know in advance what the day is going to bring. Which is why it’s so important for us to acknowledge this when discussing things such as Blue Monday.
I understand that Blue Monday is not really about depression. In actual fact, it was ‘coined’ for a holiday company trying to pinpoint when people were most likely to book a summer holiday due to their winter blues. Regardless, it’s still referred to as ‘depressing’ and therefore we need to acknowledge what that means to different people. For some, it is just a day when money is tight, the weather is glum, and we’re all feeling a bit plump after eating so much over the Christmas break. For others, well… Post-Christmas financial troubles are just the tip of the iceberg. Feeling fat - no matter how slim one is, is a year-round feeling exacerbated by Christmas. And don’t get me started on those bleak winter mornings that have you googling where in the world gets the most sun year round, (it’s Yuma, Arizona by the way). And it’s not limited to that one day.
Now, don’t get me wrong, the point I’m making is not to undermine Blue Monday as a concept - I think it’s great that it’s promoting mental health awareness in the workplace, and encouraging us to step back and think about our wellbeing, even if it’s only for one day. What I really mean is that we shouldn’t stop there. We should be taking this attitude forward throughout the year. So if you’re planning on marking Blue Monday with some wellness activities such as lunchtime yoga, meditation or a group walk in the fresh air, think about how you can incorporate those things into your regular working life. I’m no doctor, but I’m pretty sure weekly yoga can only be positive, not just for your personal health, but for the productivity of an entire workforce. And let’s not forget to regularly check-in with our peers who may be suffering with more than just the January blues.