Blue Monday isn’t Real, But Here’s How to be Happier During the Lockdown
So-called Blue Monday, claims to be the most depressing day of the year. The day emerged in 2005 when a press release from a holiday company claimed there was a mathematical equation that proved the third Monday in January was the most miserable. While this is a clever way to sell holidays, the theory has since been widely and thoroughly debunked. The idea that we all get depressed on a particular day is pure fantasy, yet Blue Monday hasn’t gone away.
Many people do feel down generally in the winter months for various reasons. A lack of sunlight can lead to seasonal depression, colder weather and darker nights make it harder to get outside and exercise. This year the pandemic means we have a ban on mixing indoors that restricts many ways people normally get together and enjoy life.
The UK charity Action for Happiness raises awareness that it’s normal and ok to find things challenging sometimes. They provide advice and support to help people take steps to look after their mental health and wellbeing during the lockdown.
Mark Williamson Chief Executive of Action for Happiness said,
“In the past, there was a real stigma around talking about mental health. The pandemic has helped people realise that we all have mental health and all have ups and downs. Action for Happiness is supporting people to work on their happiness in the same way they might work on their fitness. We can’t choose to be happy all the time. Still, if we understand what happiness is, we can fall back on practices we know are likely to support good mental wellbeing when the difficult times inevitably come along.”
After reviewing hundreds of peer-reviewed studies on psychology and wellbeing Action for Happiness developed the Ten Keys to Happier Living. The keys are giving, relating, exercising, awareness, trying new things, direction, resilience, emotional intelligence, acceptance and meaning. The Ten Keys form the basis of daily actions, advice and support that the charity sends out to people through an app and online calendar. The daily actions support people to be happier and support the charity’s aim to make society a more caring place. Here are some practical ways you put happiness into action during the lockdown:
Ten Keys to a Happier Lockdown
Giving – the one place we can go is food shopping, pick up something extra to donate to a food bank or give away you £1 from the trolley to someone who needs it.
Relating – If you’ve got zoom fatigue, why not book in some good old fashioned phone calls? Get them booked in the diary with friends so you don’t let it slide.
Exercising – Jogging was easy in summer but is more challenging when its 2 degrees outside. Think about what you can manage, get out for a walk on your lunch break, or try a new online exercise class.
Awareness – Try a free meditation app like Headspace or Insight Timer. If more time on technology isn’t your thing, how about a mindful walk noticing the nature around you.
Trying new things – There are all sorts of classes and courses that have moved online, using your brain differently and talking to new people can give you a real boost.
Direction – Set some goals for yourself, but nothing too complicated! It could be something like eating more green vegetables this week or texting three people you care about. Achieving a goal can make us feel good.
Resilience – Don’t get down on yourself, remember you’ve already got this far – you already made through 2020! Use optimism and humour to look for what’s good or try to see the funny side of things. Even sharing memes can lead to a good laugh.
Emotions – be honest about your feelings, if you are having a tough day reach out to a friend and let it out, don’t bottle things up. Remember that it’s not forever. If you are having a good day, share that as well to lift others.
Acceptance – be kind to yourself, remember self-care isn’t selfish, it’s essential. Write out a list of your strengths and think about how you can use them in your current situation. List some times in the past when you did a good job.
Meaning – Find ways to be part of something bigger than yourself, is there a cause you can support or a way you can volunteer your time? We can also find meaning in things like art, creativity or nature.