blue monday

9 tips to survive Blue Monday 

By this time this year, you may have heard of “Blue Monday”. But have you ever wondered what it is? Is it real, or is it just one of those terms that, like fads, become popular and stop being used?

The reality is that at this time of year, when the holidays are over, and with them the holidays, time off, or – at least – time to escape our routine, it is common to find that people experience many emotions simultaneously. But why does this happen? Let’s describe the context.

The end of the holidays means getting back to work and routine. Whether from working from home or having to go back to the office, this time of year means returning, but without the decorations, lights, Christmas dinner, or the lottery that brings with it that touch of hope that is characteristic of these dates. In addition, the New Year brings us face to face with that “future self” that, in December, we hoped would take care of that little problem or email we left for January. And, of course, it’s cold. Very cold. 

From this point of view, it all sounds very depressing. And this is precisely the reason for labelling the third Monday in January (a date that usually coincides with the return of the holidays) as “Blue Monday”, describing it as “the most depressing day of the year”.

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However, using the name of a mental health disorder such as depression in such a general way, assuming that it is a phenomenon that affects everyone, is a bit foolish. Basically, simply categorising an emotionally charged date, without any scientific basis or explanation, can be dangerous.

blue monday

Blue Monday: Myth or reality? 

The very idea of trying to find out what is the most depressing day of the year is incredible in itself. To claim to have achieved it by means of a mathematical formula exceeds all imaginable limits of what we can consider serious or rigorous. Because… Depressing according to what criteria? Depressing for whom? Depressing in the clinical sense or in the colloquial sense of the word? The reality: there are no defining criteria.

However, the characteristics of the context described above cannot be ignored. Although it does not apply to everyone, it is common for certain conditions to recur that may cause people to experience a drop in mood or simply find it difficult to get back into the rhythm of the previous year. 

And this is where it is key to make a difference. It is not the same to experience unpleasant emotions, such as low mood, laziness, or even fatigue (which are completely normal emotions and in keeping with the context), as it is to be diagnosed with depression.

All of the above, plus a workload or a possibly stressful financial situation, can contribute to feeling unwell at this time of year. But these are not clinical criteria for a diagnosis of “depression”. The reality is that “Blue Monday” is just a statistical invention, not a general law, so it is important to take this into account to cope with the end-of-holiday “slump” or “emotional hangover”. 

It works like this: if I consider Blue Monday as a law I cannot escape, I will surrender to that fact and assume that I must feel bad at this time of year. But if, on the contrary, I understand where the term comes from and look at the big picture, I will be able to understand that there IS a lot we can do. This vision will completely change our perspective and how we face these dates so that our “new year’s self” will start to work and help us feel better.

blue monday

How to face Blue Monday

First of all, let us remember that just because something “is there”, it does not have to really affect us. Let’s go back to the questions above: depressing in what way and for whom? You, your team, or your colleagues may be in a slightly lower mood as you return to your routine, but we are not going to call it depression. In fact, the return is a good time to reconnect and get back into your routine together, and if there are complicated relationships, to be able to look for solutions with a fresh mind.

The first step, therefore, would be to investigate and question ourselves to identify the source of the malaise on Blue Monday. We are all affected by different things, perhaps some are more sensitive to the weather, or others are nostalgic for Christmas gatherings. The truth is that there can be as many reasons as there are people: post-Christmas debts, holiday fatigue, the accumulation of work and the stress of deadlines, and so on.

In the workplace, leaders and managers have a special responsibility at this time of year (not just on Blue Monday): to detect and address these needs in time. While companies are not in charge of people’s mental health, they do have an important role to play in creating healthy work environments, able to support their staff when they need it most.

Caring for mental well-being at work

In the workplace, companies can adopt various strategies to help their employees cope with Blue Monday or any other situation that may affect their mental well-being. Among these strategies are:

  1. Create a positive work environment: Foster an organisational culture that values positivity and mutual support, where team achievements and successes are celebrated.
  1. Implement well-being programmes: Implementing programmes that can look after employees’ mental and physical health is synonymous with giving them the tools to cope with difficulties in the best possible way.
  1. Flexibility at work: This involves providing flexible working options, such as adjustable working hours or the possibility of working from home, to help reduce work-related stress.
  1. Encourage open communication: Creating spaces where honest communication between employees and leaders is encouraged can help workers feel heard and supported.
  2. Offering support resources: It is also important to psycho-educate workers by providing them with information about external resources, such as an emotional support chat or therapy, for those needing additional support.
  1. Team activities: Organising fun team activities or special events can encourage teamwork and help raise employee morale.
  1. Establish a recognition and reward system: Recognising and rewarding employees’ hard work can help boost morale and motivation, especially at this time of year.
  2. Stress management training: As part of psycho-educational programmes, it is also very useful to provide training in stress management and resilience techniques to help employees cope with emotional challenges and manage workloads.
  1. Access to professional support: The best way to help employees who are going through difficult times is to provide access to mental well-being solutions, and to foster an environment where employees feel comfortable seeking help.
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Trust the leaders

At ifeel, we know that ensuring employees’ mental well-being is an ongoing effort and should not be limited to just one day of the year, such as “Blue Monday”. Creating a healthy and supportive work environment can have a positive impact over time.

That’s why our team of expert workplace well-being psychologists has created a mental well-being solution for businesses that brings significant benefits to the entire team, including HR managers.

We know that leaders are key in influencing the company’s final results. That’s why, through our solution, they can receive personalised, data-driven advice on improving the psychological well-being of the teams they are responsible for. Are you part of the HR department in your organisation? Try our programme now to see how it could help you.

In addition, this programme offers all employees a complete mental health care service that they can access in different ways depending on their needs: those who wish can access an online therapy service with one of our psychologists, specialised in cases like theirs, or interact with one of our professionals to receive emotional support in a more specific circumstance that worries them.

We hope you found this post about Blue Monday interesting. If you would like more information about our mental well-being solution for companies, simply request it, and we will contact your team as soon as possible.

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