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Blue Monday 2018

Today is Blue Monday, calculated to be the most depressing day of the year. At this point, reading this, you might be on a train to work, surrounded by commuters, wishing yourself back to Christmas, or forward to spring, anywhere but – as you look at grey faces around you – here.

The history of Blue Monday is in fact a recent one. The concept was born in 2005 and its originator was Cliff Arnall, who in that year released a press release that stated that January 18th was the most depressing day of the year. He calculated it using several factors such as weather, debt and motivational levels. The original formula is [W + (D-d)] x T^Q} ÷ [M x N_a], with “W” standing for weather, “D” standing for debt, “d” standing for monthly salary, “M” for motivational levels and “Na” standing for the feeling of a need to take action. Blue Monday has been used by marketing and press to sell holidays and other ways to take advantage of the national low mood and many people believe this day has its roots in what is merely a promotional stunt.

The fact is that mental health, whether it is influenced by world events and the annual calendar or not, is not a universal experience. We all have our unique take on the world and on our circumstances. Some years January might be awful, others it might be inspiring – and that is just one individual take on the month. Across a population it has many more variables across a lifetime.

You may be aware on your commute in this morning that today is not a party day, maybe that it might be worth being sensitive to others. It might be more helpful, rather than viewing today as a national low mood day, to see it through more optimistically tinted spectacles. A national sentiment does not have to dictate to us as individuals. Instead, we can take this opportunity to be honest with ourselves about how we feel. Rating our mood on a scale and naming our emotions have been shown by researchers to be beneficial. Even if we rate our mood lower today than another day, doing so helps us to face up to how we are. It introduces ‘metacognition’ or thinking about thinking, which helps us not to be overwhelmed by our feelings but rather see them more dispassionately.

The fact is that regardless of the date on the calendar, taking a moment to check in with your feelings each day is beneficial for managing our wellbeing. Mindfulness is a part of this, as is storytelling. This is why a group of people with experience of actively managing their mental health conditions developed Mental Snapp, the private video diary app. With Mental Snapp you can actively manage your mental health through storytelling – making private video diary entries. You then make sure these are useful clips by labelling them. You do this by rating your mood, naming your feelings and tagging them with subject and free text. All this is beneficial for mental health. The app makes suggestions of what you might like to record on next based on your interests and mood. It also shows you your mood over time so you can learn more about yourself.

Whether you believe in Blue Monday or not, whether at this moment you are on a train crushed up against your fellow commuters or not, you are not simply part of the mass national stereotype. You have your own story – nuanced, subtle and well worth telling. The most important audience for that story is you. Check in with yourself today. Download Mental Snapp for free.

 

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