As a fortysomething who grew up in the 1980s, to me, Blue Monday, is a sublime song that was released by the band New Order in 1983; with two remixes in 1988 and 1995, including several cover versions since. However, after reading a magazine article in 2018, I realised how wrong I was, and that Blue Monday refers to something else entirely.
Collins Dictionary defines it as ‘a Monday regarded as a depressing workday in contrast to the pleasant relaxation of the weekend’. In the UK and other countries in the Northern Hemisphere, it falls on the third Monday in January – this year on the 17th.
Typically, it’s known as a time when we experience low mood after the festive season. Our finances having dwindled after splurging on gifts for our loved ones; there’s the excessive eating and drinking; the resolutions that were made on New Year’s Eve have fallen by the wayside… and the next bank holiday Monday just seems such a long way off.
So, what exactly, can we do to overcome such feelings? Here are five suggestions to help you to ‘adult’ on the day and beyond:
Be kind to yourself:
I love journaling, and in recent years, I have kept a gratitude diary. Simply recording in a notebook, three things per day, that I was grateful for, and paying myself at least one compliment. By being kind to ourselves, helps us being kind towards others. I find that having a safe space in which to write, helps me to keep my emotions in check and enables me to be mindful. You may have some notebooks lying around that aren’t being used for your studies or perhaps you could use your mobile phone, tablet or laptop. Whatever method you choose, I hope you enjoy the journey channelling your innermost feelings.
Whether you are new to the Open University, or are a seasoned student, it is so important to unwind from your studies.In between assignments, I am a serious procrastinator, or if you prefer, a sofa- spud. When my head isn’t buried in module books or set texts, I will be binge-watching my favourite dramas on BBC iPlayer or comedy box-sets on Netflix.
Your Guilt-Free Me-Time may include setting aside some time each day to read or listen to the latest novel by your favourite author; your favourite podcasts or listening to music on your favourite radio station or streaming service. Relaxation is the ultimate goal here.
If like me, you have received an abundance of Christmas gifts in the shape of toiletries from friends and family, then make it your mission to use them. Self-care often disappears when we are feeling low, and it can feel a monumental struggle to run ourselves a shower or bath. However, factoring in a pamper night or two during the week, loaded with our favourite bath bombs or fizzers, exfoliators and moisturisers, goes a long way towards promoting our emotional well-being. And for a total unwinding and recharging session, why not take time out from social media as well?
Learn something new:
Open University studies aside, you may want to get completely out of your comfort-zone this year, and learn something new. During 2020’s lockdown, when my partner and I couldn’t see each other in person, he would learn a new magic or card trick, and take great delight in showing me in our video calls on Facebook Messenger. During last year’s lockdown, he set himself monthly challenges such as learning origami and illustration.
Smartphone apps, such as Duolingo, which can be downloaded via the Play or App store, are a fun way to learn a new language. For more information on the languages that Duolingo offers, please see their website.
If you are the creative type, there are plenty of short courses available via Domestika, most of which can be downloaded to your phone and completed whilst on the go. Domestika’s courses are chargeable, however, they do offer deals on course bundles.
Plan something to look forward to:
As I approach the end of a module, I like to have something to look forward to, as a way of a reward for all of the studying I’ve done. This year, I’m planning a few days away in London with my partner, with a trip to watch a Shakespearean play at The Globe Theatre.
Having something to look forward to could be something as simple as a get together with friends and family that you haven’t seen for a while, or treating yourself to something more indulgent, such as a Red Letter Day. Red Letter Days offer wide-ranging experience days and gift ideas, such as afternoon tea, hotel and spa breaks, gourmet dining, or online experiences. And what’s more, they offer student discounts for Student Beans and Totum account holders.
Perhaps you have a holiday abroad in mind. Sometimes I find it difficult to save or put money aside, however last year, I discovered LOQBOX. They operate pretty much in the same way as a credit union; however, they are completely online. You choose the amount you want to save each month, and at the end of twelve months, you have access to your savings. Plus, having such an account, helps to boost your credit score.
If you need something more:
If you are feeling over or underwhelmed on January 17th, please remember, that it’s okay not to feel okay. And should you need anyone to talk to, there are plenty of support services out there, and someone will be there to listen to you.
You can call the Samaritans on 116 123, which is a free phone number, or you can get in contact with them via their website.
For Campaign Against Living Miserably, they can be reached on 0800 58 58 58 or via webchat.
Papyrus UK Suicide Prevention are available on 0800 068 41 41 and their website.
For mental health services and support available in your local area, please visit Hub of Hope.
Stonewall offer support to the LGBTQ+ community here in the UK.
You can also access a range of support services via the Help Centre on your Open University StudentHome account.
From here, you will find information how to access Shout 85258, which is a new free 24/7 text message support service; and Togetherall, which offers free 24/7 online mental health support.
You can also find some of these resoures, and more, on the OU Students Association website's support and advice pages.
I wish you all a healthy and happy 2022!