There’s something about this day, the third Monday of January, that captivates our collective consciousness. Nestled in the heart of winter, this day has gained sombre title as the “most depressing day of the year.” It’s a fascinating concept that exists somewhere between our culture, societal observations and science. As a psychologist, I’ve always been intrigued by Blue Monday’s enigmatic nature. This year, however, my curiosity transformed into a personal reflection, as I found myself experiencing some of the blues the day is known for. Today, as I sat down to write about Blue Monday, I found myself caught in the very essence of what I was about to explore. Amidst personal challenges and the usual ups and downs of life, I felt a shadow of the Blue Monday blues creeping over me. A certain heaviness my loved ones also experienced. This realization was a turning point, and led me down a path of introspection. An active effort of searching for the silver linings amidst the clouds. I reminded myself of the past year’s accomplishments, my health, and so many things in my life I am grateful for. This mindful exercise, this directed shift towards gratitude and positive reflection helped me really grasp how to beat the blues on Blue Monday and it helped me overcome my own Blue Monday mood. It reaffirmed my belief in the power of perspective.
The Psychology Behind Blue Monday
But before we delve into my reflections, a word on the origin of Blue Monday. So, did you know that the concept of Blue Monday originated from a 2005 press release by a travel company? The company claimed to calculate the most depressing day of the year based on factors like weather conditions, debt levels, time since Christmas, and broken New Year’s resolutions.
While Blue Monday is scientifically debated, many factors could contribute to many of us feeling down during January. I believe this timestamp has its cultural significance which cannot be denied, as it reflects our collective human experience – just notice how these factors make you feel – these post-holiday blues, gloomy winter weather, and the daunting realization of all the New Year’s resolutions we might have abandoned by now.
At its core, Blue Monday reflects a collective low in our motivational cycle. This day symbolizes the intersection where high hopes meet reality checks. The initial excitement of the New Year fades, leaving many feeling disheartened by unmet goals and unfulfilled promises. It’s a day where the lack of sunlight contributes to lower serotonin levels, potentially exacerbating feelings of melancholy and lethargy. It makes sense, right?
The Power of Perception
In my therapeutic and coaching practice, I see Blue Monday as an opportunity for introspection and recalibration. Often when working with clients, we analyse this guiding principle: “It’s not about what happens to us, but the meaning we attach to it.” That’s it! This simple yet profound idea forms the foundation of our perception of life’s events. I believe that many, many of our experiences, in their raw form, are neutral. It’s the interpretations and narratives we construct around them that turn them into something devastating of rather enriching. Through the meaning we color the events with emotion and meaning. And the liberating thing about it is: you are free to change the meaning at any time.
Imagine two people experiencing the same event – say, a job loss. For one, it’s a devastating blow, an evidence of failure and loss. For the other, it’s a redirection, an opportunity for growth, a push towards a dream they’ve been hesitant to pursue. The event is the same, but the stories we tell ourselves are vastly different. This is where the power lies – in the MEANING we attach to our experiences.
As a therapist, I encourage clients to examine the narratives they create. Often, we’re not even aware of the stories we’re telling ourselves until something makes us pause and listen. I find it truly fascinating, as majority of these narratives have their origin in our early experiences and beliefs we formed when we were on a planet only for a couple of years. I believe that finding the root cause and understanding them is key to reauthoring our life story. For good.
The challenge lies in recognizing that while we can’t always control what happens to us, we have the power to control the story we tell about it. Do you remember the Karpman’s Drama Triangle It’s about breaking the cycle of victimhood. It’s about shifting from a mindset of a passive acceptance of events to an active engagement with the meaning we give them.
This perspective is particularly relevant to the phenomenon of Blue Monday. The day itself is an event, a point in time. Yet, it’s the meaning we attach to it – a symbol of gloom or a moment for reflection – that truly defines our experience. This understanding allows us to see Blue Monday not just as a day of heaviness, sadness and melancholy but as an opportunity for mindful introspection and positive change.
How to beat the blues on Blue Monday through a transformative perspective
This quote resonates deeply within the walls of my practice: “When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.” It speaks to a fundamental truth about the human experience – our power lies in our perspective. How we view a situation can transform it more profoundly than the situation itself.
Take, for instance, a conflict in a relationship. Seen through the lens of blame and resentment, it remains a source of pain and division. But viewed as an opportunity for understanding and growth, the same conflict can become a catalyst for deeper connection and empathy.
The Art of Reframing
The process of reframing our perspective is comparable to looking through different lenses. Each lens offers a new way of seeing the world, and with it, a new set of possibilities and solutions. This shift in perspective is not about denying the reality of our circumstances but about exploring the multiple truths that exist within them.
In therapy, we explore these different lenses, helping clients to shift from a fixed to a growth mindset. This shift doesn’t just change their view of a specific situation; it changes their interaction with the world. It’s about moving from a perspective of limitation to one of possibility.
This transformative view echoes loudly on Blue Monday. If we shift our perspective towards this day, the feelings and experiences associated with it can also change. Instead of a deeply sad day, it can become a powerful catalyst for a renewed perspective, a time to reshape our view of the world and our place in it.
Ready to beat the blues on Blue Monday?
Incorporating these insights into our understanding of Blue Monday, we are reminded of the impact our perceptions and the meanings we assign have on our experience of life. By keeping these principles active in mind, we can not only beat the blues on Blue Monday but also transform it from a symbol of despair into a symbol of hope and self-empowerment. I’d love it to reminds us that even in the heart of winter, amid the challenges and blues, lies the opportunity to rewrite our narratives and change our perspectives. Today, let us choose to view it not as the year’s gloomiest day, but as a unique chance for introspection, gratitude, and a fresh outlook. Let’s choose a journey of moving from seeing the world as happening to us, to understanding that we are active participants in creating our reality.