In the past few years, the third Monday of January has acquired a title – ‘Blue Monday’. It’s said to be the most depressing day of the year. Listen carefully to the radio or TV; read news stories and you’ll hear so-called experts listing some of the causes.
Christmas and New Year are behind us but we still have days full of winter darkness and bad weather. Debt levels rise as many people are facing up to credit card spending before and during the festive period. New Year resolutions have been made and now broken. That attempt at a ‘new you’ has fallen by the wayside. You may even be told that more people walk into solicitors’ office on this day than on any other to file for divorce. And you’ll certainly hear it said that calling the day ‘Blue Monday’ has a scientific basis.
But … all of this turns out to have a far less solid foundation than you might think. With a little bit of research you’ll discover the day is not the result of scientific endeavour but was the creation of a travel company who were looking for that extra something to persuade customers to shell out on holidays. All mention of the depressing nature of the day was designed to make you want to do something to cheer yourself up and what better way than to escape to a sunnier clime?
So should we ignore all talk of ‘Blue Monday’? Not entirely. Anything that underlines for us the importance of our mental health is not without some merit. Just recently the England Rugby Player Owen Farrell announced that he would be missing the upcoming Six Nations tournament in order to prioritise his mental health. He joins an ever-increasing list of sporting and other celebrities prepared to open up on how their day-to-day pressures affect them mentally.
We have also been reminded that anxiety and other mental health issues are at an all time high in our schools, a trend that increased sharply during the COVID lockdowns but which has shown no sign of diminishing.
It’s not just celebrities or school children, of course. For any of us our day-to-day pressures can get to the point where our mental well-being takes a beating. And we’re all unique so the triggers and breaking points will be different for each one of us. That’s why judging someone or telling them to ‘pull themselves together’ is so unhelpful. Rather we need to develop more care and understanding for one another and recognition that it could just as easily be us needing help.
I love the Jewish word ‘Shalom’. You’ve probably come across it as a greeting or with its underlying meaning of ‘peace’ but what it conveys is so much deeper and richer than that. It has to do with everything being in order and all being right and well with the world. Not simply ‘peace’ but ‘PEACE’ (with bold print, underlining and a few exclamation marks thrown in for good measure!). If I had a magic wand, I’d wave it over you for a good dose of Shalom right now but, unfortunately, I don’t. That won’t stop me, though, wishing and praying that you will find something of Shalom in your life – and particularly your mental health – not just on Blue Mondays but every day.
Rev Steve Mann (Minister at Capel and Elmsett Methodist Churches) 8 Roundridge Rd, Capel St Mary Ipswich IP9 2UG
email@example.com / 01473 311 178
Capel Methodist: In Church and Online every Sunday 10.15am for 10.30am start
Sunday, 14 January Liz Cope
Sunday, 21 January Café Church Service
6.30pm, United prayers at Capel Community Church
Sunday, 28 January Covenant Service led by Rev Steve Mann
Elmsett Methodist Church Sundays at 9.45am
Sunday, 14 January Alyson Ellis
Sunday, 21 January Covenant Service led by Rev Steve Mann
Sunday, 28 January Luke Rokobuli