Unhelpful negative messaging or is there hope in the dark?
Blue Monday, we’re told, happens on the 16th January this year. According to Wikipedia, it is ‘the name given to a day in January (typically the third Monday of the month) said by a UK travel company, Sky Travel, to be the most depressing day of the year’.
According to certain factors like weather and darkness in the northern hemisphere, debt levels, credit card bills following Christmas, broken new year’s resolutions, oh and the apocryphal divorces that accumulate with all that time together, it all adds up to the most depressing (Mon)day of the year – as if Mondays weren’t depressing enough already.
All flippancy aside, with the Cost of Living Crisis (a humanitarian emergency) in full flow, one of the coldest early Decembers I can remember and record levels of debt and plummeting incomes, now is a time to acknowledge the very real hardship for very real and growing numbers of people and families. Nearly 8 in 10 social housing tenants (or 78%) are worried all or most of the time about meeting monthly living expenses (Resident Voice Index). It is truly grim for many with no end in sight.
I’m here neither to agree nor disagree with the premise of your subjective feelings about Blue Monday, rather to explore the spin or more positively, the reframing we might be able to use to help us all get through to ‘Terrible Tuesday’. Torn between naming my misery and encouraging its flourishing by saying it out loud and ignoring it all together as a deeply unhealthy trait, I’m trying to steer a sensible course that is authentic to my essentially sunny and realistic outlook.
Which variables would make the most difference to how you feel on this day? How different would it be in June for example? Apparently somewhere around midsummer’s day is the happiest day of the year, so that answers that question. What are the factors that you’re experiencing that are causing most distress and is it one factor or the cumulative effect of them in the darkest month of the year?
- Debt. Take debt for example. Concern for debt has reached epic proportions, with energy debt unsurprisingly overtaking credit card debt as the main debt concern. Balance this however, with the percentages of social housing tenants still unaware of where to get help (52%), and there has to be hope that by reducing stigma, shame and other barriers, people can get more help. This is why Your Own Place was proud to play a key role in the #hereforyou campaign, urging people to get more help and earlier.
- Light and weather. I accept it’s a dark and cold time of year and putting the heating on hurts. But I still contest that having seasonal changes is a gift of the northern hemisphere. Would you enjoy the anticipation of summer as much if it was summer all year?
- Money and Going Out. Do you share my self-talk that after a break over Christmas we’re not just a bit more resilient after the rest, but frankly we’ve eaten and drunk for England and personally a month of cabbage soup suits me fine. It’s cold, I don’t want to spend money even if I had more and as a borderline introvert, just like during Covid, I welcome the excuses to stay in and eat soup rather than see these hardships as enforced.
- Divorce. Okay, I’m not going to put a positive spin or reframe on this one (although as someone who has lived to tell the tale of the ending of an 18 year relationship I still think there is a positive tale to tell).
- Broken new year’s resolutions. Isn’t self-love cutting ourselves some slack? The most effective exercise and food regimes are those that are not extreme, not externally imposed and sustainable into our lifestyles. Anyone who suggests taking up running in January needs a stern word with themselves and I’m right behind you in finding a routine from around May onwards, making it much easier to sustain come January.
So I know it’s grim and there are plenty of reasons to be blue. But as someone who runs an organisation that prides itself on the values of being asset-based (alongside empathy), trust me, there are reasons to be just a little cheerful, and if that’s a stretch, then at least hopeful of change ahead. So put the kettle on and let’s reframe as Brew Monday. That’s a day I can get behind.