It’s Blue Monday today. The day where you will undoubtedly feel depressed and sad. Because it’s Blue. And….it’s a Monday. And because it’s cold outside. Unless you live in the Mediterranean. In which case, you might feel happy. Because it’s warm. And not actually that Blue at all. Or you may be feeling unwell with a cold today. But perhaps you felt more Blue yesterday. Which means it was Blue Sunday. Not Blue Monday. Oh fuck…..I don’t know.

I’ve already had a few marketing emails today trying to offer me cheap Sushi, some running shoes and a couple of summer sun holiday offers. All because I might need to buy these things today, Blue Monday, to help me feel better….

Blue Monday is, of course, a con. It’s a made up thing. Cliff Arnall is the man we have to thank for dreaming up this now tired and tedious PR stunt. He’s a psychologist and came up with the formula back in 2004 on the request of Sky Travel who wanted to magic up a nifty idea to flog their holidays. He was asked to define the best day of the year for people to book summer holidays. By combining a series of factors; weather, time since Christmas, debt, monthly salary, low motivation, time since failing NY resolutions and add in the feeling for the need to take action, he plotted that today was the day of the year where we would feel most doom and gloom. Thankfully, even he has since said it is pseudo-psychology and should be refuted. But still people use the day to sell their wares and capitalise on the assumption that we are supposedly all miserable and weeping into our cereal. This, of course, ultimately leaves many people more vulnerable to their advertising. I even considered buying some discounted Sushi myself.

It’s sensationalist nonsense. But still many folks buy into it. I just spoke to my 85 year old mother who told me it was Blue Monday today (read it in The Daily Mail 🙄) and how she was, oddly, feeling blue and sad but, only noticed that as she read the article!!!!!! But why am I even bothering to write about this? Why?! Because it trivialises poor mental health in a system that is already steeped in horrific statistics and stigma. It’s pointless to try and identify the most depressing day of the year because it would be different for each one of us. As different as each person’s own circumstances are. And it’s important to distinguish between temporarily feeling gloomy, which we all relate to from time to time, and experiencing depression or a mental health problem that can be quite disabling for our day to day lives.

This year, maybe more than any other year in recent history, the need and importance for us all to look after our mental health and stand shoulder to shoulder with each other at this time, is clear and urgent. Covid has eroded many of the things that normally protect our mental health – from social connectedness to financial security and hope for the future.

Perhaps the true meaning of Blue Monday is that we all have mental health and that there are steps that we can take every day of the year to protect it. In my experience, depression and other mental health problems last for more than just a day. And mental health problems can affect people in different ways on any day of the year. It can be a traumatic rollercoaster ride if we are unable to self regulate and locate our place of centre.

Without a shadow of a doubt, poor mental health is the greatest public health challenge facing our generation. Trivialising symptoms of depression, anxiety and other mental health problems, under the influence of commercial industries that wish to turn mental health into an on-trend topic for profit, is shit. The fire in my belly burns bright. In fact, brighter. I am relentless in my pursuit of better mental health outcomes for everyone. My work with organisations is focussed on helping them build and nurture systems that are good for everyone in it and all those who interact with it. When more organisations start to hold this with the degree of importance that it requires, we will begin to turn a corner. Until that point, there is much to do.

With the annual cost of poor metal health to UK businesses alone standing at £94 billion and with over 91 million workdays lost each year, you can see the gigantic size of the problem we ALL face. This isn’t improving. It’s getting worse. C-19 has only deepened the spiral down. In the news recently, we are hearing that the trauma cases in our front life healthcare staff have shot up since the start of Covid. Anxiety levels are at a record high. And in the time that you have spent reading this, 3 or 4 people will have taken their own life – that’s one person Every 40 Seconds. None of us are in a place to simply nod and move on from this. We must now act. You. Me. All of us, together.

So, as we lounge around in the noise of Blue Monday, eating our discounted Sushi and wondering about a cheap summer holiday, what’s your own manifesto for better mental wellbeing? What is the manifesto that you and your team hold as guiding principles? Huh? What do you mean you don’t have one?! Start the conversation. You can do it today. It takes some energy, some time and Philotimo (A beautiful Greek word that has no easy English translation – it means grace without strings, acts of radical kindness but with no conditions – it’s about giving a shit!)

My 2021 Manifesto is kept intentionally simple. I know I can get entwined in noise so, keeping it straightforward is better for everyone. Here it is. You can steal it if you like. Or simpler, just capture your own.

  • Give a Shit – about myself! (Game changer!) 💩
  • Continue to Give many Shits about others – I have no clue what battle they are embroiled in behind the scenes. Tread carefully and with love. 💩💩❤️❤️
  • Be Grateful – whilst the world may feel chaotic and confusing, there is always stuff to hold with immense gratitude and appreciation. ☺️
  • Say NO. Say YES. Choose when each of these is most appropriate. 🤔
  • Be a JOY seeker! 😍
  • Ask for Help (😣…tough one)
  • Listen to the gentle voice of my Inner Child and self parent accordingly. 🧒🏻
  • Move your body. Walk. Skip. Hop. Dad Dance. Just move. In Nature. 🕺🏻

If I did each of these things, daily, the quality of my health would improve. I would experience more moments of flow. In a world that celebrates effort, it could all be just a little more effortless.

If you want to buy cheap Sushi today, I’ll send you the link. If you want to book a holiday, go for it. If you think about signing up to your very own manifesto, then please, please go ahead and do that. It doesn’t matter if you do it on Blue Monday, Red Tuesday or Green Wednesday. Just do yourself a favour and do it.

With love, as ever

Rich x