After a dire 2020, it seems unfair that there’s still the bleakest day of the year to endure.
But the third Monday of the year – 18 January 2021 – is known as ‘Blue Monday’. And there are several reasons why it’s earned its title as the most cheerless day in the UK calendar.
Festive cheer has disappeared, leaving post-Christmas debt. If we’ve set New Year resolutions, apparently it’s when they start to fail. And bad weather and dark nights make things seem gloomier.
Let’s not forget the ‘C’ word, either. In 2021 the January blues may hit harder as due to coronavirus restrictions people won’t have been able to celebrate the Christmas they wanted.
And of course despite the hopes of a vaccine rollout we still have the effects and restrictions of the pandemic to navigate.
Last, and by no means least, there’s also the uncertainty around Brexit and the implications on businesses this brings.
In the workplace, productivity, positivity and morale all take a nosedive around this bleak day - with many employees already finding working from home increasing their feelings of loneliness and isolation.
There’s no denying it all adds up to a pretty gloomy mix.
And whether your staff are remote, on-site or a mix of the two, it may take some small actions to boost the office mood and brighten up the gloomiest day in the UK calendar.
Working from home has kept a huge part of the UK workforce safe from infection, but it can also be a solitary existence.
That’s why emotional support charity Samaritans is encouraging as many people as possible to reach out with a cup of tea and a chat as part of its Brew Monday event.
Gathering together to talk can be done virtually for remote teams as well as in-person for physical workplaces, and discussing our feelings to someone we know can be a first step in tackling the blues.
We all know that taking enough exercise and being active day-to-day is crucial for mental as well as physical health.
So to mark Blue Monday, perhaps give staff an extra-long lunch break or time during the day with the aim that they get more time outside in nature. Of course, this might not be suitable for every business or sector, and if 18 January turns out to be a windy, rainy day it won’t lift many moods.
But there’s increasing evidence that spending time in green surroundings as often as possible can help with mental wellbeing.
At HR GO we see that employers who prioritise protecting mental health and wellbeing definitely attract more engaged, loyal employees in the long run.
And whether or not the third Monday in January is really the bleakest, the truth is that every day in the calendar can be a struggle for people living with mental illness and depression.
Once Blue Monday has been and gone, there’ll still be a simple fact: Doing things every day of the year to try and protect your employees’ mental health is a good idea - and given what we as a nation have just lived through, this is true more than ever.
Mind has more information for employers on mental health at work.