What is Blue Monday?
When I mention Blue Monday, I'm not talking about the fantastic and classic 80s single by New Order, I'm referring to the day which is said to be scientifically the unhappiest day of the year. So much so, that Cliff Arnall, who at the time was a tutor at the Centre for Lifelong Learning, devised a formula to calculate the most depressing day of each year. Legend has it that the work was carried out to help a travel company to discover trends of when people book their holidays. This was thought to be when people's levels of motivation were low and that they were feeling that they needed to do something about it, hence booking a holiday.
Now you may not be thinking of booking a holiday to beat the blues, so how else can you beat Blue Monday.
While it may be a challenging time and the unhappiest day of the year, there is research from the field of positive psychology that can help to reduce your negativity.
Dr. Barbara Fredrickson suggested three ways in which you can increase your positivity based on research carried out and these were to:
1. Count your blessings
2. Follow your passions
3. Dream about your future
Count your blessings
When we're feeling unhappy and down on the world, being able to focus on what we are grateful for can be a difficult. A key piece of research in the field of positive psychology has centered on the positive impact of being grateful and appreciating the things that we have in our lives. A really simple way to do this is to write down three things that you are grateful for each day or have appreciated. The things that you are grateful for can be as simple as appreciating the smile on family or friends' faces, noticing the beauty of nature or being thankful for all that you do have rather than the things that you don't have.
Follow your passions
It is often that people set themselves New Year's Resolutions and after the first 2-3 weeks of January they start to struggle to maintain them. By having a goal that you are passionate about working towards, it can help you to overcome the obstacles in your way or the inevitable moments when you doubt whether you'll ever be able to achieve your goal. Following your passions can give you the drive and inspiration to overcome the setbacks and to realise your true potential.
Dream about your future
In sports, competitors are often advised to visualise performing at their best and succeeding at what they do. This mental rehearsal has been found to stimulate the parts of the brain that would actually have been activated had the person physically accomplished what they had visually rehearsed. The impact can be that you experience the energy and emotions of accomplishing what you are dreaming about. On Blue Monday, the supposed unhappiest day of the year, dreaming about your future can give you the positive emotions and energy to emerge from your slumber and propel you to fulfill your goals and potential.
Finding what works for you
Not all of these suggestions may fit naturally with you, but the chances are that at least one of them will be something that you are able to do or work towards on a daily basis. Finding that activity that fits naturally for you can be the easiest way for you to increase your positivity and, in turn, your happiness and wellbeing. The reasons are that it doesn't feel like a chore doing it and that it can be something that is energising while you're carrying it out.
While Blue Monday may be a great song, don't let Monday 18th January 2016 be a Blue Monday for you!