Let’s talk truth. “Blue Monday” is a marketing campaign that got more recognition than it deserved. The concept was brought about by a travel company in 2005 to try and get people to spend money. It worked! Somehow jargon has been confused with scientific truth. The idea that there can be a most depressing day of the year trivialises the impact mental health issues have on the lives of so many people on a daily basis.
Charities such as MIND have pointed out that the idea that mental health issues such as depression can come down to bad weather and over spending is insulting and belittling. They are encouraging the public to donate to mental health charities or reach out to someone in need of connection. They also encourage those who are suffering with poor mental health to reach out for help. Links are at the end of this article.
Truth can be brought to light by fiction. Here are some real truths about mental health and what we can do to better support ourselves and those around us.
Some Days Are Better Than Others
When struggling with mental health, there are up days and down days. The reasons for the ups and downs are personal and not always predictable. Those who support people with mental health issues often become confused when they see their colleagues and loved ones able to cope one day and struggle the next. Accepting this can allow people to look for possible triggers, take extra care on the down days and gain a better understanding of how and when support is needed.
The Weather Matters
Remember when your Auntie could tell you if it was going to rain because her knee acted up? There is truth in this. Weather plays a significant part in our mental health. Many people with pain conditions like fibromyalgia, see dramatic increases in pain and brain fog when the pressure drops with a rainstorm. Also, the sun brings us vitamin D which studies show most people in the UK are significantly lacking. One of the little-known benefits of vitamin D is that it helps to regulate mood and sleep. The NHS are suggesting that due to Coronavirus, most people in the UK should be taking a supplement because of all of the time we are spending indoors between March and October.
Money Can’t Buy Happiness
We’ve all heard of “Retail Therapy” which is the concept “Blue Monday” is exploiting. Spending money can give a small and very temporary boost in mood. Unfortunately, the temporary boost of buying something can prevent you from getting help when you need it. It can often come with unfortunate financial ramifications as well. Interestingly, studies have shown that resisting buying something can also give a temporary mood boost. Gambling is another unhealthy way people try to cope with anxiety and depression. Betting on events has increased 60% since COVID on some betting sites. Organizations like GAMCARE are there to help when the urges become strong. Pay attention to why you are spending money. If you are using it regularly to cope, it is time to find a healthier alternative.
Education and Awareness Are a Year-Round Need
Recent years have shown an increase in the amount of education and awareness brought to mental health issues. This has opened up the conversation for many people who would not seek help out of fear from ridicule or that “stiff upper lip” mentality. This is an ongoing and continual process. Organisations’ wellbeing programs have gone beyond being a perk and are now considered vital, as part of a healthy working environment. Continued development in this area helps build understanding for when people need consideration and support. As this support goes beyond awareness days and becomes part of our culture, the mental and physical health of our world improves.
If you or someone you know needs support, please reach out. Help is there.
You can call your GP or even a friend.