Today didn't get off to a brilliant start for me. I got rained on. Then I got to work only to realise that I had no hairband and had to borrow 'spare knicker elastic' from the work sewing box to tie my hair up. I kid you not. But, my rubbish start to the day wasn't down to some supernatural force making it a 'blue' Monday. It was down to forgetting an umbrella, and putting my hairband on the dining table instead of in my coat pocket.
If you didn't know, today is 'Blue Monday', aka the saddest day of the year statistically. There's a whole bunch of contributing factors to this; the fact that we all have a little less money this month than normal after Christmas, the dismal weather, lack of sunlight, and it's the time when a lot of us start to feel as though we've 'failed' in our New Years goals. Oh and there's the fact that after a whole month of pressuring us to indulge ourselves, companies are now forcing the 'new year, new me' mentality on us, and making us feel guilty for eating anything more than a wilted lettuce leaf (preferably covered in a light dusting of chia seeds). But I've got more on that here.
At first, the idea of Blue Monday was welcomed with pretty much open arms, but over the last couple of years, opinions have shifted. Now there's a big debate on whether we should even talk about Blue Monday. The fact that it's talked about incessantly on this one day of the year is said to make people feel worse in a self-fulfilling prophecy kinda way; people know that today is the saddest day of the year, so they're more aware of their sadness today, so they feel sad, so it stays the saddest day of the year. Companies are (of course) starting to capitalise on it too. From emails reminding you to cheer yourself up with a lil retail therapy on this day, to Yo Sushi's free blue plate - I won't lie, I was tempted by that one - , once again, companies have found a way to profit from our sadness.
But, I honestly think Blue Monday is a positive thing. For starters, it helps us recognise that this is a tough time of year. We can stop coasting along, pretending that the lack of sunlight isn't impacting us, and actually say, 'do you know what? I feel shitty today'. And statistically you know you're not alone. I think there's value in today being a time when that essence of clawing loneliness that comes with mental illness can seep away a little. You know that other people are finding today (and this month) just as bad.
I'm a firm believer in celebrating the little things. Getting through today is 100% a thing to celebrate because we've officially got through the worst day of the year, statistically. This is something that I've definitely not seen in the past, especially that year where I quit my job on Blue Monday because my mental health was getting so bad. That year I didn't even realise it was Blue Monday until later on in the month. Maybe knowing that it was natural for me to be feeling extra rough at that time would have helped me to push through, but who knows.
Blue Monday is also a chance to open up discussions about mental health. It's a chance for firms to reach out to individuals working for them and make sure they're okay. It's a reminder to get in touch with that friend that you know's having a rough time at the moment. It's a time where the nation sits up and actually recognises the profound impact that mental health has on your everyday life. There's no other day where this happens. And whilst everyone expecting you to feel rubbish today can make it seem inevitable, I think we should fight back; make it a time for discussion and a time for change. Today's the worst day of the year - it can only get better from here.