Monday 21st January is referred to as Blue Monday. Officially the most depressing day of the year.
The cold weather, mounting debts from the holiday season, coupled with the realisation that you might have already discarded the new years’ resolutions, can all contribute to a low mood.
There have even been suggestions that we should take the day off work, hide under a duvet on that day, watch multiple feel-good movies and consume large amounts of Ben and Jerry’s ice cream.
But here’s the interesting part; Dr Cliff Arnall, the man who first gave ‘Blue Monday’ it’s name, has said it was never his intention to make the day sound negative. He identified the date 13 years ago in a bid to encourage people to take a positive outlook on this time of year as an opportunity for new beginnings.
Since then, the date has been saddled with negative connotations, epitomising all that is seen as miserable about the month in general.
I’m not a great fan of Mondays, in fact when I became self-employed, Monday became midweek for me.
Even with the dire British weather and rain pounding on my window, I don’t believe low moods in January are attributable to festivities ending (most people, in fact, are pretty relieved to get back to their routine). It’s more about the feeling of ‘what’s next?’
I observe how just before the holiday season, we have a selection of adverts showing every glitzy gift available for purchase. Before the Christmas presents have barely been put away, Boxing day comes in to introduce the never-ending sales. Things you need to buy which you simply can’t live without.
I guess there is even more to consume; as shoppers pile up in shopping centres and queue up outside shops in Regent Street in London ready to plough into anyone daring to take the sweater that is now half price, off their hands.
Then the day after the new year arrives and there is a barrage of travel adverts with half price holidays being advertised. Television scenes showing families lounging happily by the pool, with discounted flights and all-inclusive offers, yet again, something else to plan for.
Except for the end of January, there is none of this, other than mounting credit card bills as well as adverts for Weight Watchers and Slimming World, which makes us run for the hills just thinking of the weight that has piled up over the past month.
People tend to go from one thing to the next repeatedly, which makes it hard to live in the present moment.
There is an insatiable need for consumption, an incredible fear of missing out and having a low mood can transpire from the emptiness of not having the next thing available.
It’s the same feeling we get when we come back from a great vacation we have been planning for months, then arrive in the arrivals lounge at the airport in our matching suitcase combination (bought especially for the occasion) and stare blankly at the life awaiting us.
Without a vacation, festivities, gifts to receive or anything else to look forward to.
I was working with a client who had travelled to South America for a vacation and she said she wished she felt just as happy and creative when she was at home in London.
What was different? She was the same person in both places, but her thinking had shifted, there was ease and an effortless in everything she was doing that felt so different when she was abroad.
She mentioned her desire to keep travelling back to South America to experience this.
I wondered why she would need to travel to the other side of the world if she could feel this way when she’s home. There hasn’t got to be such a disparity of experiences between both places.
She could create components of what she had there, book a massage once a month, surround herself with amazing nurturing friends, take an art/dance/music class, so that the life she has at home is already optimised.
Imagine creating a life where we build in components from the holiday season throughout the year?
I remember years ago feeling as if the only time I could feel wellbeing, joy and happiness was in my hometown Gibraltar. So I continued to visit countless times a year, I called it my vitamin pill, because I felt so amazing just being there and it invigorated me for my return to London.
I saw London as the experience I had to tolerate, and Gibraltar as the highlight of my year.
I had a huge insight one afternoon whilst in Gibraltar, I realised that the only reason I felt better there was that family was present, but if I really thought about it, there had been plenty of times when I had not felt so great in that environment.
Gibraltar had become Neverland for me, and I could be the Peter Pan who never quite grew up.
I realised that it was not the location but my mindset about the location that was making a difference. I realised that if my entire family moved to the UK, Gibraltar might not be such an inviting prospect.
That’s when everything changed, I began to love London, even (shockingly) the Autumn weather which brought the most beautiful colours to the scenery. I had been so pre-occupied with tolerating the country, that for the first time I began to see the beautiful autumnal colours come to life.
I found the winter weather cosy, I loved the open spaces, the anonymity I have and the tremendous professional opportunities there are present for both my daughters and me. I’m truly grateful I stayed, but more so, that I connected with a country which has helped me grow and develop into the person I am today.
Gibraltar is great, but so is London.
So how can you create a life which isn’t dependent on what’s next, which isn’t reliant on external factors, but more about what we create in each moment?
Joy, happiness and wellbeing are not within our environment, they are in us.
If you want joy, be joy.
If you want love, be love.
If you want life to feel like one long festivity, create more incredible components into your life.
Join events whilst you’re in your home environment, engage with live meetup groups in your area (rather than random Facebook groups) where you can meet the kind of people you would meet on holiday.
Imagine you’re the next Steven Spielberg creating a Hollywood blockbuster movie called ‘Your life.’
Which scenes would you like to add and what experiences would you like them to have?
Become Steven Spielberg, and shout ‘cut’ when something no longer serves you, and it no longer belongs in your ‘life movie.’
This is how we create a life that feels like one long seasonal holiday, even if you’re employed, or run your own business. Of course, you’ll want to travel abroad to experience the rich cultures and traditions which enrich your world, but let this simply enhance your life, rather than be the reason why you’re able to be happy.
Be more resourceful with what you’ve already got.
If we relied less on clinging onto the festivities and just gifted friends gifts when we wanted to, celebrated the year when it felt right, and we created our own personal amazing moments, Blue Monday would cease to exist.
In its place would be a normal Monday, great for some and not so great for others, just like each week and just how life tends to pan out.
How has Blue Monday been for you?
If this article resonated with you, check out my latest book Look Inside: Stop Seeking Start Living available on Amazon.
If you want to connect with me to share insights from this article, I would love to hear from you. Send a message via e-mail to [email protected]