By Mark Richards

Monday 15th is ‘Blue Monday’ – the day when we face a perfect storm of cold, dark and credit card bills; when we are supposedly the most depressed we are at any time in the year. Should we do something specific to counter ‘Blue Monday?’ Or should we just roll our sleeves up and get on with life…

It is cold. It is dark. Christmas is just a distant memory – except for the credit card bills. They have just arrived. Ouch! And whatever comes after ‘ouch.’ Meanwhile, your New Year’s resolutions lie abandoned in the bin. It is too cold to start exercising, you have not made a start on sorting out your finances and you still cannot talk to your teenage daughter…

If only there was something to look forward to. But there isn’t: it is an age until payday. Easter is weeks away – and your fortnight in Spain is so far in the distance that it is out of sight.

And to top it all, it is Monday.

Monday, January 15th – or as it has become known, Blue Monday.

When did Blue Monday begin?

The term ‘Blue Monday’ was first used in 2005 by a British holiday company. It was not based on any in-depth research but instead on a calculation involving the temperature (low) and debt levels (high) – and quite possibly on the idea that the only way to beat Blue Monday was to book a holiday. So it has no basis in fact but – according to the PR industry – it is a day that many of us have come to dread.

According to one press release I received this week, 15% of us are so traumatised that we will choose to spend the day in bed.

So like Black Friday, Cyber Monday and Singles Day in the Far East, Blue Monday is another day that has been created out of thin air. And in case you missed it, Monday of this week was Divorce Day – the first working Monday of the New Year, the day when people decide enough is enough and start divorce proceedings.

What can you do to beat the Blue Monday blues?

What can you do to beat the Blue Monday blues?

According to the PR industry, there is only one way to beat the Blue Monday blues – and that is to spend money: lots of it…

According to that same PR survey, more than 50% of millennials will be taking a day off on Blue Monday. Why? To book a holiday. In fact ‘booking, a holiday’ (the survey, astonishingly, is from the travel industry) appears to be the only way to beat Blue Monday and preserve your sanity. Go to the gym? Go for a meal with friends? Nonsense. Get in front of that laptop and book a holiday.

…Unless of course, you decide to stay in bed. I had to re-read the press release. Yep, one in seven of the Great British Public will decide the only way to beat Blue Monday is to spend the entire day in bed.

If you do risk getting out of bed, you will find the newspapers awash with advice. Assuming that you decide not to book a holiday, there are plenty of other ways to beat Blue Monday. You could go to the gym or go for a walk in the fresh air – release some of those endorphins – the ‘happy hormones’ as they are known.

Or you could do a good deed for someone less fortunate than yourself – helping other people always makes us feel good – or simply grab a piece of paper and make a list of everything you have to be grateful for.

Failing that you could give up the struggle and abandon ‘dry January’ (shame-faced I must admit to only lasting until Friday 4th: it had been a difficult week…) And if that does not work then you could always eat more chocolate. As all chocoholics know, chocolate boosts levels of serotonin, the brain’s anti-depressant, and dark chocolate can also cut levels of your stress hormones.What can you do to beat the Blue Monday blues?

What do we think?

All good and worthy sentiments. But let us offer our six penn’orths. And maybe Shakespeare had the answer right back in 1599. As Hamlet says, ‘Why then, for there is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so.’ Who would have thought that the Prince of Denmark was the 16th Century equivalent of Anthony Robbins

You are in control on Blue Monday. It is not what happens to you, it is how you react to what happens. Taking exercise, helping others – even something as medically proven as eating chocolate – are all well and good. But they are only temporary solutions.

Maybe one reason why so many people suffer the Blue Monday blues is that they expect too much of the New Year. It is a sad fact that if you have money worries on December 31st they will still be there on January 1st. Ditto for worries about your marriage, your health, your job, your teenage children and anything else that is a the top of your ‘worry list.’ New Year does not magically fix things – and yet so many of us see it as a time of new beginnings. ‘I am going to sort out my finances, get fit, get a new job, spend more quality time with my partner and have a real relationship with my children.’

With a list like that you are setting yourself up to fail. No wonder that two weeks into the New Year you have given up on all of them. The way to really beat Blue Monday is to tackle a long-term problem – which brings us back to those New Year’s resolutions. Fish them out of the bin and ask yourself a simple question. A year from now, what is the one thing on that list I would most regret not fixing? Finances? Fitness? Relationships? And then start the New Year again with that one simple priority.

Me? I shall be beating Blue Monday by sitting at my desk and writing another article for you. Have a great weekend – and I will be back on Monday. That’s right: just plain old Monday…