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Monday, January 20, 2020

Blue Monday Myths vs. Your Wellbeing Reality

‘Blue Monday’ is the dismal name given to the third Monday in January, apparently due to a combination of factors which all seem to point to this day being deemed the most ‘depressing’ of the year.

We at HappyMaven recognise that with the winter holidays firmly in the rear view mirror, payday in the distant future and the cold winter nights closing in barely after lunchtime, there may be some smidgen of truth in the moniker.

However, like any catchy, PR-worthy term which can be used to capitalise on human vulnerabilities, we recommend taking Blue Monday with a pinch of salt.

The phrase was coined by psychologist Cliff Arnall in 2004 on behalf of a travel company, who had asked him to come up with the best day to book a summer getaway based on motives for booking a holiday, which include: weather conditions (W), debt level (the difference between debt accumulated and our ability to pay (D), time since Christmas (T), time since failing our new year’s resolutions (Q), low motivational levels (M) and the feeling of a need to take action (Na). 

w= weather, d= debt, T= time since Christmas,

Understanding that this confluence of factors are very real for a high proportion of society in the northern hemisphere, we have explored alternative methods for alleviating those feelings of gloom and sadness. 

Methods that are not only more immediate and gratifying for your wellbeing than booking a holiday, but also more effective, long-term. 

Hit Reset 

If you feel like you’ve already slipped back into bad habits after well-meaning resolutions, it’s never too late to start again. Use ‘Blue’ Monday as an opportunity to set new intentions and kick-start your plans and new habits for the new year. 

Audit your Wellbeing

It may be too cold and dark to completely embrace morning workouts or after-work activities, but there's never a better time to focus on the mental wellbeing of yourself and others around you. A simple way of paying your wellbeing the attention it deserves is by taking an audit of your environment.

Create a wellbeing map focusing the following categories, adding your personal factors within each. Consider which aspects you could change and improve to enhance your overall mental and physical wellbeing. Over time, small changes can really make a big impact.

  • Social, eg. Community, Relationships.
  • Physical, eg. Lifestyle, Exercise.
  • Psychological, eg. Stress, Learning.
  • Environmental eg. Comfort, Safety.


For businesses, January is the ideal time to audit your employees’ wellbeing and plan a workplace wellbeing strategy to re-energise your people, improving productivity, creativity and communication.

Discover more about how HappyMaven can help you to start your journey or boost your ongoing strategy with a programme of engaging workplace wellbeing workshops designed to positively impact your employees physical, mental and emotional welfare.

Look forward

This recommendation is the most akin to Cliff Arnall’s original objective of Blue Monday, however there are many other activities to look forward to without purchasing an impulse holiday.

We suggest arranging short, medium and long-term activities to look forward to, as a holiday in six months time can feel very far away, even potentially exacerbating the prolonged, cold winter blues. 

This is even more relevant in the workplace, with team morale at a low in January, so why not kick-start the year with a HappyMaven workplace wellbeing workshop designed to positively impact your employees physical, mental and emotional welfare. This short term activity is guaranteed to rejuvenate employees and reap positive results in the long-term. 

Blue Monday may have originally been constructed to tap into our subconscious and convince us to book a holiday when we’re feeling at our bluest, but why not embrace this day as an opportunity for change, kickstarting your year at work and at home, for the better when all of the odds are supposedly against you - if you’re to believe the publicity. 


Discover more about HappyMaven’s services and how we can support your team achieve their personal and career goals by getting in touch for a free 30-minute consultation.

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