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It’s time to put some perspective and gain a little reality around these so-called campaign days, for the sake of our mental wellbeing

When it comes to awareness campaigns, there seems to be an even split between the real and important (breast cancer day) and the just for fun (world taco day!).

I’m a fan of a good taco, but whilst the ‘just for fun’ camp may give a bit of lighthearted entertainment on social media and some amusing memes, what’s behind them and could our mental health be suffering?

First, let’s gain a little perspective.

Blue Monday, the third Monday in January, was coined as such by psychologist Cliff Arnall in 2004. He came up with it after a holiday company asked him for a “scientific formula” for the January blues. His formula included factors to do with the weather conditions, debt level, time since Christmas, time since failing our new year’s resolutions, low motivational levels and feeling a need to take action.

Turns out, there wasn’t much basis to the science and people have long since rebuffed association with the phrase! However, many companies still to this day use the phrase as a marketing tool to make people buy their products that can “fix their blues”.

Photo by Natasha Spencer on Unsplash

For those suffering or vulnerable to mental health issues, putting such a label on an otherwise perfectly normal day, can make people feel worried and anxious. It’s hard to feel positive about yourself and your life when all the messages around you on this day are telling you that you are depressed, down in the dumps and feeling blue…. even if you’re not!

  • Stepped in a puddle on the way to work? Oh no, it’s not just because you weren’t looking where you were going, it’s because it’s Blue Monday and your life sucks!
  • Been careful about what you eat, doing more exercise and you’ve lost 1lb this week? Oh no, that’s not good healthy progress, it’s because it’s Blue Monday and you should feel bad about yourself and eat dust next week and do four extra spin classes!
  • Feeling happy in love? Really- are you sure?? It is Blue Monday and that tells us we should really be digging deeper. He did just say that bloke at the DIY shop was really helpful. Maybe ‘helpful’ is code for he fancies him because you aren’t a snappy dresser. Yeah, actually I’m not that happy after all!

Some companies thrive off guilt and self esteem issues.

  • There are no puddles in St Lucia, if you fancy booking this expensive holiday and then you will be a goddess!
  • You really should be losing 10lbs a week so follow this 12 -week Transformation programme online and you will feel as beautiful as a Kardashian, promise!
  • He’d fancy you more if you looked like David Gandy, just saying. Buy this new clothing range and then you’ll look like him and keep your man.

Time to paint the day a different colour

Before we all start blaming Cliff Arnall for every little worry we have on January 20th, he did actually report in 2018 that it was “never his intention to make the day sound negative”, but rather “to inspire people to take action and make bold life decisions.”

So, if you are looking for help in making positive action, or inspiration to try something new, maybe these tips could help you….

  1. Painting and drawing are a time machine. Mindful, creative escapism that is super positive for the mind and can take you off to a place of a happiness.
  2. Self-kindness and acceptance. There is so much pressure in January to detox, transform yourself, and change! How about accepting New Year, Still the same fabulous me? Journaling can really you to write down your worries in a brain dump, see patterns of thoughts, and practice Gratitude for the things you are already are not hating the things you aren’t.
  3. Mind and Body movement. Exercise plays a huge role in boosting your mood. But your mood also affects the type of movement you should do. Rather than thinking, “In January I will join a gym and go every day” (we all know how that turns out!) Try thinking, “How do I feel today? Do I fancy a walk in the woods, do I need to blow off some steam in a spin class, or do I feel like some tummy tightening and back helping Pilates?”
  4. Embrace the positivity of having discussions, opening up and talking about things that affect mental health
    ‘Time to Talk’ does exactly that and that positive awareness day is around the corner (February 6th if you’re interested!)

Let’s take the name and the supposed meaning of Blue Monday, with a large pinch of salt, a lick of skepticism and a huge dose of reality, perspective and self-kindness.

Now, where can I get a good taco from?!