Blue Monday: How to beat the most depressing day of the year

Blue Monday: How to beat the most depressing day of the year


Feeling the January blues? Discover what Blue Monday is and read our top tips to find out how to overcome Blue Monday this 2023.


Whether you’ve heard of the term Blue Monday or not, you’ve likely seen the discussions around January blues or January depression. Or, perhaps, you’ve been experiencing it for yourself. Here, we’ll take a look at all we need to know about this depressing day as well as how to overcome it.

What is Blue Monday?

So, what exactly is Blue Monday? This is a term commonly used to refer to the most depressing day of the year. While Blue Monday isn’t scientifically proven, many factors could contribute to some of us feeling down during January. 

Why is it called Blue Monday?

The term Blue Monday was coined in a 2005 press release by a UK travel company as part of marketing efforts. Since then, this day has been widely known as the most depressing day of the year. The term was allegedly created as a result of a calculation that determined this day was the most depressing, although this is debated by many.

When is Blue Monday?

This gloomy day falls on the third Monday of January each year. For 2023, Blue Monday falls on the 16th of January. 

Why is January so depressing?

While the existence of Blue Monday itself is debatable, there’s no denying that January has the potential to leave us feeling a little down. But why is that the case? Let’s look at a few of the reasons why January can sometimes be a difficult month for us. 

New year’s resolutions

It’s not uncommon for us to aim a little too high when setting out our goals for the year. For many of us, the new year opens up an opportunity to squash bad habits, jump right into a range of new activities and work towards our goals. 

While this can be a great chance for us to make a positive difference in our lives, there are many instances where we don’t consistently keep up with our goals or perhaps leave some resolutions out entirely. This can leave us feeling down, unmotivated, and annoyed at ourselves, and it may cause us to give up on our goals completely. 

Dieting

Among the most common new year’s resolutions, alongside exercising more, are eating healthier food and dieting. Reducing our calorie intake, especially if the difference is drastic, can leave us feeling tired and not in the best of moods. Our bodies need enough calories to maintain our basal metabolic rate at the bare minimum, and reducing calorie intake below this will have negative effects on our health.

Also, by cutting out snacks and our favourite foods we may be minimising some aspects of pleasure in our lives. What we eat is directly linked to our brains, so adjusting to a diet change could certainly contribute to the looming feeling of January blues. 

Discover both the positive and negative impacts of different foods on the human body and mind with our Food for Thought course. 

Finances

During December, it’s quite common to receive your pay a little earlier than usual to account for the days off over the holidays. This means your paycheck may have to last a little longer than usual, and with the seasonal expenses of gifts, this may hit you even harder.

Running low on money or feeling guilty about overspending can leave us feeling anxious and contribute to our overall negative moods. We might also find ourselves not doing as many activities and socialising less in a bid to save money around this time. 

To find out how to effectively use your money and cut down on unnecessary spending, check out our Practical Guide to Budgeting ExpertTrack. 

Weather

It’s no secret that January is a miserable month when it comes to the weather. Cold, rainy evenings and minimal daylight hours during the day can certainly leave us feeling gloomy. 

With this in mind, it’s easy to see how we might find ourselves stuck inside with not much light to cheer us up. Links have been made between light deprivation and depression, so it’s not surprising that many of us find ourselves feeling down in an environment like this. 

Post-holiday blues

For many of us, the end of the year is a time of celebration and excitement. Whether it’s exchanging gifts with family at Christmas or partying with friends on new year’s eve, the chances are, you’ve had a lovely break just before the new year. 

Let’s face it, going from having a fun break to your normal routine of study or work can be a little deflating. With no big event or break to look forward to, our daily routine can feel a little bit bleak as we ease back into the groove. 

This is completely normal, but it means that workplace wellbeing is incredibly important. If you find yourself feeling too stressed out from work, our Workplace Wellbeing course will walk you through stress management at work. 

How to beat Blue Monday in 2023

Now that we’ve discussed some of the reasons you may be feeling the January blues, let’s get to the important part – how to beat Blue Monday. We understand how hard it can be to get yourself out of a rut, but there are things you can do to minimise the potential effect of the most depressing day of the year. Let’s dive into some top tips.

1. Go easy on yourself 

The pressure of changing your lifestyle or habits at the start of the new year can be a lot. If we’re being honest, there’s a lot of expectation and pressure around making some changes in your life, whether that’s from yourself or others around you. 

But in truth, a shift to a new year doesn’t change much! If you have goals you’re aiming towards, you should attempt to do them in a time frame that suits you rather than basing it on the concept of new year’s resolutions. 

We often punish ourselves and get into a bad frame of mind if we don’t uphold our new year’s resolution expectations. This can do more harm than good, and put you off of self-improvement and achieving your goals entirely. Go easy on yourself and try to set realistic, effective goals tailored to your needs. 

Be kind to yourself when you don’t meet your goals, and make sure that your efforts to uphold resolutions aren’t having a negative impact on your mental health. To learn how to change important behaviours in your life the right way, check out our Behaviour Change Interventions course from UCL (University College London). 

Take breaks 

Part of going easy on yourself includes stepping away from productivity and giving yourself some time for relaxation and activities. By upholding your long list of resolutions, you may find that they consume your free time and you aren’t allowing yourself any time to have fun. Taking breaks and letting yourself do the things you enjoy is crucial for managing your mental health and wellbeing. 

Understand the importance of play and fun in every stage of our lives with our Exploring Play course from the University of Sheffield. 

2. Spend more time outside 

If you’re feeling down, it could be a good idea to try and spend some time outside. Research has shown time and time again that being outside and spending more time in nature has a positive effect on our mental health. 

It’s easy to stay inside and get swept up in a wave of negative emotions, but if you take some time to spend outside, you may find that your mood is lifted. Whether it’s a walk around the local park at lunch-time or a weekend hike away, try to make an active effort to connect with nature this January.

You can learn how to establish a relationship with nature and understand the connection between nature and mental health with our Nature Connectedness course from the University of Derby. 

3. Reduce screen time

While this may seem like an obvious point to make, many of us still find that we’re unable to abandon our devices for even short periods, despite knowing the potential negative effects. 

Studies have shown a direct correlation between device usage and health issues such as headaches, difficulty sleeping, and eyesight problems. Not to mention, the negative impact that social media can have on mental health, showcased in a number of studies in recent years. 

As tempting as it may be to give in and continue scrolling, taking a break and allowing yourself time away from devices may help improve your overall mood during Blue Monday. 

Why not use the time you’d usually spend on social media to learn something new or socialise with friends? You can even start small by taking shorter breaks away from devices, eventually building up to turning devices off for entire evenings or days of the week. 

Discover how digital technology affects our health, relationships, and society in our Digital Wellbeing course from the University of York. Alternatively, study the influence of social media on how we perceive mental health with our Understanding Mental Health: Continuum, Culture and Social Media course. 

4. Prioritise self-care

When we only focus on where we want to be and what we want to achieve, we may find ourselves disregarding our mental health in the present moment. Being stressed out, overworked, and anxious doesn’t bode well for our overall wellbeing and quality of life, so prioritising self-care is a must. 

Take care of yourself and make an effort to do something to improve your wellbeing – whether that’s meditation, trying new ways to be mindful or reflecting on the positives in your life. An important part of self-care is treating yourself to things that make you happy! So don’t rule out activities like watching a movie, socialising with friends or spending time with pets. 

A great way to unwind and allow yourself some me-time is to get stuck into a good book. Different things work for different people, so think about what self care looks like for you and how you can take care of your mental health. 

You can create a self-care plan and outline some ways you can treat yourself and prioritise self-care this Blue Monday.  Check out our 12 simple self-care tips article for some ideas to get you started.

5. Do something creative 

This Blue Monday, why not spend some time doing something creative? Creativity can increase positive emotions and reduce anxiety among other benefits. Creativity is also often considered a key skill for many careers, so building your creativity could help you in both your professional and personal life.

If you already have a creative outlet, this could just mean finding the time to start a new project or picking up an unfinished project. If, however, you haven’t unlocked your creative brain, this might mean choosing a new hobby or activity to try out.

As we outlined in our how to find a new hobby article, some ideas for creative hobbies include filmmaking, photography, painting, baking, songwriting, journaling and gardening. If you’re keen to pick up other creative skills, take a look at our creative arts and media courses. 

Final thoughts

While there are many obstacles and difficulties we might have to face this month, we’ve established that there are, thankfully, many ways to tackle the most depressing day of the year! 

Whether you make a self-care plan, take a walk outside, or cut down your screen time, we hope that you can utilise these tips to help you beat Blue Monday and overcome the January blues. To discover more ways to improve your mental health this month, check out our mindfulness and wellbeing courses.



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