Today is officially Blue Monday. The third Monday in January is thought-of as the most depressing day of the year. You might have seen the phrase pop up on your social feed and in the media over the past few years. The concept of Blue Monday has received criticism because some have said that it plays into certain stereotypes about depression: that people only get depressed in winter and that depression is something everyone feels together as a society, which is not the case. 

The truth is that depression can sneak up on you at any time of the year. You could be standing in a room full of joyous people in December and feeling more depressed than you’ve ever felt. The third Monday in January may indeed be a difficult day due to the weather, but any day of the year has the potential to throw you off course if you’re not feeling your best. 

One in four of us will experience a mental health problem in any given year. This could happen at any time for several reasons, and there’s no one size fits all cause and solution for depression - so if what you’re feeling doesn’t fit with these narratives, it doesn’t make how you feel any less valid. It could happen in spring, summer or winter. It could happen when things are difficult because of external factors and it could just happen at any time. 

But rather than dismissing Blue Monday entirely, maybe we can instead use the day to acknowledge that we all have bad days and realising that we need to deal with our feelings in order to maintain our emotional health. We have Valentine’s Day to celebrate love, Christmas to celebrate unity, and Halloween to celebrate fear. Why shouldn’t we have one day to acknowledge our collective sadness and face up to the things that bring us down? 

So, what can you do if you’re feeling miserable? Small changes can make a huge difference. Try to set yourself achievable goals like getting dressed every day or cooking yourself a delicious meal. Achieving your goals can help you feel good, boost your self-confidence and help you move on to bigger goals. It helps to be more mindful of the influences that can bring your mood up or down. 

Seeking help is one of the most important things to do if you feel like you’re experiencing depression. Speak to a friend or family member or go to your GP, who can talk you through the support that’s available. Lots of people also find online forums helpful, where people can discuss their problems with others who are going through similar experiences and talk about potential solutions. 

Just as intuition and fear can be the superpowers that keep us safe from danger, sadness can motivate us to make the changes we need to find joy. So why not use today as an opportunity to face up to and share your sadness? You can rest assured that you won't be alone in feeling those emotions, and there will always be someone out there who would really appreciate it if you got in touch to ask them how they are, not just on Blue Monday but on any day of the year.