January blues

My birthday is in Japarty on....nuary.

I mention this because despite it being my birthday, even I find January a rubbish month. The thrill of Christmas is gone, everyone is on a detox (no birthday drinks for me then), pay day seems like an elusive pot of gold at the end of a rainbow and it’s dark …. all the time!  January doesn’t really fill me with positivity and it seems that I’m not alone.

The Samaritans report that more calls are made about financial worries in January than at any other time of the year as our pre-Christmas credit card bills land on the front mat with a thud.  And it’s not just money worries that are affecting people’s mood. Ruth Sutherland, Chief Executive of Relate, the relationship charity, reports a 52% increase in the number of clients attending with relationship problems.

“We expect this week to be the busiest ever for Relate as people get back to work and think about their relationships following the Christmas break”

Adding to my pessimistic view of my birth month is the arrival of ‘Blue Monday’. If you’ve read any newspapers today you are likely to know what I’m talking about.  The third Monday of January is apparently the most depressing day of the year. This year Blue Monday lands on 21st January….today.  After all this is it any wonder that we all feel a little flat in January?

But how helpful is all of this doom and gloom?

As a psychologist I know that where we choose to focus our attention has an impact on our mood. If we focus on all of the negative things that are happening, then this will likely have an adverse impact on our mood. This is true for any time of the year so why pick on January?

With a little digging you are likely to find out that Blue Monday was actually invented in the mid-2000s by Sky Travel to boost holiday sales. Often cited as a ‘fact’ this label was a PR spin that isn’t based on any scientific research. Another well-known ‘fact’ about January is that it is the month with the highest suicide rate: not true. Research isn’t consistent but reports spring, summer or autumn as the peak depending on what you read.  Winter isn’t even mentioned.

It is true that people report more financial and relationship difficulties in January than other months but perhaps this is a good thing. I see it as people taking advantage of a new year to face up to problems that started long before January even began. Perhaps the ‘enough is enough’ mentality is at its strongest in January and it makes us galvanize into changing our lives for the better?

With a new year comes New Year’s resolutions and I only have one this year…… be kinder to January and in turn, it might me kinder to me.

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