The concept of “Blue Monday” was coined in 2005 by the SkyTravel company in a marketing bid to sell more vacations. ‘Blue Monday’ is the phenomenon that the third Monday in January is deemed the most depressing day of the year because:
- The weather
- We’ve failed all of our “New Years goals”
- Our finances are in shambles from the holiday season
So why do we want this to be the last ‘Blue Monday’? We want this to be the last ‘Blue Monday' because we don’t want to engage in the patterns that create Blue Monday in the first place. The patterns that leave us feeling burnt out, disconnected and not good enough.
So, where do we start?
1. The Weather
As days become darker and shorter, we experience shifts in our hormones that makes us naturally more sleepy and more hungry. As a result, our productivity may decrease or our moods may shift.
Instead of adapting our behaviour to these environmental and physiological changes, we pathologize it. That is, we label ourselves a ‘disordered’ when we feel more tired or apathetic in the winter months when our body is simply responding to a natural circadian rhythmic shift that we end up trying to fight.
Instead of resisting the change in weather, what would it be like to move with it? To grant ourselves permission to sleep more, do less, and lean into the darkness.
Many Indigenous cultures live (and have always lived) in harmony with the land and the changing seasons as part of their commitment and deep connection to nature. Ceremony, diet, agricultural and harvesting practices, as well as healing traditions all align with changes in the seasons (Brown, F. & Brown, K., 2009). Not only does this defy our society’s exploitative expectations to produce at all costs, but also makes Indigenous communities the leaders in sustainable environmental stewardship.
We are deserving of rest all year long (just ask @TheNapMinistry) and these darker and shorter days are helpful reminders of that. We do not need to be plagued with the task of overriding nature and then made to feel bad if we can’t. Maybe if we revelled in this invitation to slow down we wouldn’t be left feeling as low?
2. Failing New Year’s Goals
January 1st has long been heralded the ultimate reset day as there is an ongoing expectation that a New Year means a New You. Companies spend millions on marketing in order to remind us that we need to lose weight, buy more, and do better. The pressure to set and achieve goals has become astronomical.
What if we divorced our new year hopes from a capitalist agenda?
Can we identify the systems at play that make us feel not good enough? That make us feel like we need to change in the first place?
By identifying how we are being targeted, we can identify how we need to resist (and the ways we are already resisting).
For example, if we could notice the sneaky ways diet culture makes us dissatisfied with our bodies and appearance, maybe our new year ‘goals’ would be: don’t. change. a. damn. thing.
3. Financial Debt
The holiday season is known for bringing cheer, joy…and STRESS. We receive unlimited reminders that we need more. More decorations, more food, more lights, more drinks, more gifts and more perfection. In fact, the Retail Council of Canada predicted an upward trend of Canadian spending this past holiday season.
The pressure to meet these expectations of what the holidays 'should’ look like leads to many people sabotaging their financial situation in order to feel good enough. As the festive fog lifts in January, we are left questioning our decisions and whether or not our overspending was worth it.
But what if we identified this messaging early on in the season to resist the pressure to engage with these holiday antics? Can we remind ourselves of the core values of the winter holiday we celebrate - is it community? Presence? Faith? Nature? Family? Tradition? Giving back?
If this becomes our focus, perhaps spending will become less of a crutch to hold up our egos that have been fractured by the pressure to produce and provide. Then come January, we would (hopefully) feel less shitty about our financial situation.
So as it turns out, to resist ‘Blue Monday’ means we must continue to resist oppressive systems of colonialism, exploitative capitalism, and the patriarchy (what else is new?). If you are feeling particularly down today it is likely - at least in part - a symptom of living in a society that operates on you feeling that way - that thrives when you feel ‘not enough’.
But guess what? You are, and you always have been.
Join us in making this the last ‘Blue Monday’. Resistance is hard, but it is worth it.
Brown, F. & Brown, K. (2009). Staying the course, staying alive. Coastal First Nations fundamental truths: Biodiversity, stewardship and sustainability. Victoria, BC: Biodiversity BC.