10 unconventional ways to tackle Blue Monday

Geir Darge · 18 Jan

At first glance, Blue Monday sounds more like a commercial gimmick than a social pandemic. Its phrasing is reminiscent of Black Friday or Cyber Monday.

The reality, some claim, is far more serious. But what is Blue Monday, is it worth paying attention to and, most importantly, can we do anything about it?

What is Blue Monday?

Blue Monday is the name given to the third Monday in January and is considered to be the most depressing day in the year.

Though the concept has gained popularity over the past couple of years, it’s actually based on a piece of academic research carried out in 2005 by Cliff Arnall.

As part of his research with the Centre for Lifelong Learning, Arnall claimed, using a contentious formula, that this particular Monday in January is the day people are most miserable.

More than a feeling

For many of us, the supposition that mid-January is the low-point of the year doesn't come as a surprise. Pay-day seems unreachable and the jubilant fun of Christmas is fading into a distant memory.

However, a feeling wasn’t what Arnall was basing his research on. In fact, Blue Monday was the product of a calculation. The formula took into account factors such as weather, debt, motivational levels, and broken New Year's resolutions.

The problem with the problem

Predictably, the formula generated a fair amount of criticism. The very idea of applying a precise science to such a subjective and personal experience seemed flawed, however, the units themselves were (for the most part) immeasurable. What does a lack of motivation look like as a figure? What axis was weather calculated on – hours of sunlight, temperature?

There is validity in this, of course, and it’s important to be wary of popular “science” – not least as it’s communicated by newspapers, whose job it is to sell stories, not tell them.

This being said, it doesn’t take a genius (or scientist at that) to appreciate the misery January can bring. Financial, emotional and physical wellbeing are the pillars that support a happy and healthy life, all of which are in cinders following Christmas.

We’re broke, struggling to make ends meet and battling a newly-formed muffin top. On top of this, there’s usually a backlog of work to be getting on with. It’s the pits. It’s what Blue Monday is really about: dealing with the extra stress January brings.

man holding belly

How Perkbox fights the post-Christmas blues

So what’s to be done?

There’s a certain level of arrogance and superiority in a lot of self-help advice published in the mainstream. Being told that you have to do yoga for 50 hours a week or that you if you don’t start quaffing kale by the kilo, you’ll never be happy again doesn’t do much to inspire or motivate.  

Wellbeing advice tends to be expensive and unattainable, focussing on fickle health trends and bogus science. To combat this, we’ve decided to collect some examples of how we at Perkbox, tackle stress.

green kale

Everything here is home-grown, genuine and totally unqualified.

1. Probably the most unique of all the solutions was given by our resident extrovert, who:

“Unwinds at work by having someone stroke my hair” 

2. Others were more down to earth, stressing the importance of camaraderie and friendship:

“Chatting with a colleague about what's bothering me, a problem shared is a problem halved! They can also help me look at a situation from a different perspective."

3. When humans don’t quite cut it, we can always turn to our canine counterparts:

“A great stress reliever is spending five minutes with one of the office dogs, they always put a smile on my face and help lift my mood."

4. In the immortal words of Oscar Wilde: “after a good dinner one can forgive anybody, even one's own relations.”:

“If I’ve had a really stressful day at work, I like to unwind by cooking something delicious for my dinner whilst listening to the whole Miseducation of Lauryn Hill album back-to-back (and singing very badly).”

office pup

5. Small changes in routine can make a seismic difference, particularly those purporting to our dirty vice:

“If I'm feeling stressed at work, I find it's best to avoid that afternoon-coffee and instead opt for a sparkling water or peppermint tea.”

6. Or simply find your buzz elsewhere:

“If I feel stressed at work, I make sure I take a lunch break, get some air and do something active - whether that be a run or just a good walk. An endorphin hit always makes me feel like a new person.


7. If reality is getting you down, why not escape?

“If I need to de-stress at work I close my eyes, take 10 deep breaths, and visualise I'm on my own private beach (yes I've created my own tropical island and it’s awesome!)”

8....Or just block it out:

“Noise cancelling earphones really help me relax. Sometimes the temporary silence from the buzz of the office is cathartic.”

9. Maybe even sweat it out:

“I head to the gym to sweat beside strangers in a dark room - sometimes on a stationary bike. There has to be very loud music blaring in my ears to get the full benefits

10. And when all else fails:

  1. Grab headphones
  2. Head to the work bathroom
  3. Shake my booty uncontrollably to Destiny's Child
  4. Leave like nothing happened... with a massive smile

man dancing

There you have it, 10 ordinary and effective ways to combat the January blues and workplace stress. Don't make it complicated, the solution is to find something that works for you and stick to it. Kale is okay too I suppose. 



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