Blue Monday’s Here!
Is it the most depressing day of the year?
Watch out, watch out, Blue Monday’s about!
But what is Blue Monday? According to Google, it’s the third Monday of the New Year and is claimed to be the most depressing day of the year.
Actually it’s a made up day reputed to be part of a press release from a holiday company – something to do with getting us to spend some money on a holiday, perhaps? To be fair, following the glitz and sparkle of Christmas and the potential of the New Year, by the time we get to the start of the third week in January it does look a little grim… we’re waiting for the bank account to stop squeaking from the thrashing it got over Christmas and our New Year’s resolution is already a fading memory, the trousers still won’t do up after the excesses of eating and drinking and we’re probably facing the third or fourth storm of the year already – and we’ve been back at work for a couple of weeks.
So perhaps it’s natural to feel a bit down on Blue Monday, and what better remedy than turning our thoughts to a hot, sunny holiday?
And actually that’s not such a bad idea – barring emptying the bank account even more! Our primitive brain (the subconscious part) can’t tell the difference between imagination and reality, when we worry about bad things happening, such as going into the overdraft or stressing out about losing weight, we activate the freeze/flight/fight system. To our primitive brain those negative thoughts are as good as real and they’re life threatening so the chemical balance in our bodies and minds shifts, with more stress hormones being released to keep us in readiness for action.
This is such an effective system it’s why you’re sitting there reading this, it kept your ancestors alive.
But in our modern lives we don’t face life or death situations so our brilliant but imperfect brains see everything that acts as a barrier to us getting what we want as life or death, so the empty bank account becomes a terrifying Saber-toothed tiger, and our primitive brain activates the physical system releasing cortisol and adrenaline (this is how anxiety, depression and anger issues develop).
But using the very same system, when we positively forecast (i.e. think about that holiday) we release happy hormones like serotonin. By releasing serotonin, we stay in a coping mode – it helps us cope with day to day activities, it helps us cope with fear, it even helps us cope with physical pain – and it helps to cap the release of cortisol. This was how we evolved as humans, the more we felt good about something (surviving, supporting ourselves and our families, interacting with other tribe members) the more we wanted to do it and it acts as a catalyst for mentally healthy behaviour, and this still holds true for today’s modern humans. So when we interact in a positive way, are active in a positive way and think in a positive way we create patterns in the brain that give us that constant flow of serotonin.
So perhaps Blue Monday isn’t such a bad idea, if it gets us focusing on positive things like spring coming or going on holidays… and we can help ourselves feel better by seeing today as the start of a brand new week, when we can pursue those dreams, and we can tick off being a day closer to the weekend…
If you want to change your thinking to be a more positive person being able to cope better with life, hypnotherapy can help. Contact us on email@example.com or if your company would benefit from opening up the conversation on mental health in the workplace contact firstname.lastname@example.org