The Blue Monday myth - like all good legends - has some elements of truth. We know that some people living with mental health problems find the winter months harder. If the Blue Monday hype has drawn your attention to your mental health, or made you think about how a friend, colleague, or loved one might be feeling then it has done some good.
We're rightly encouraged to talk about our feelings when we're experiencing difficulty. It can often be the first step to dealing with whatever the problem is and preventing it from escalating. However, for talking to be effective we need someone to listen. So why don't we make this year's Blue Monday a day of listening?
There's a physiological reason for this stress. There's a pleasure/pain war going on, partly exacerbated by modern technology. When we get messages and responses to our interactions, our brains reward us with lots of boosts of the pleasure hormone dopamine. Seeking these out often feels more rewarding than concentrating on a superficially dull task.
I usually get lost in crime fiction or romantic novels that are easy to read, rather than non-fiction books that could teach me a little bit about life. But, after seeing a series of books cropping up on social media with claims they could "improve my life for the better", I took the plunge and bought some.
The truth that Blue Monday gives us an opportunity to talk about is that we all have mental health and that there are steps we can take all year round to protect it. The major risk factors for mental ill-health, poverty, trauma, loneliness, ongoing stress and physical ill-health, are not confined to one day, let alone one month.
How are you? No, how are you really? Because just for today, you can legitimately respond with something other than, "Fine thanks." I may not be the first person to point out to you that today is Blue Monday, supposedly "the most depressing day of the year". Well, shut the front door; it's not. The term was coined back in 2005 as part of an advertising campaign, and has been spreading misunderstanding ever since. A quick Google will tell you that the whole concept is a load of rubbish and has about as much scientific basis as Ghostbusters.