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January Blues

Is it really the most depressing time of year?

Here’s Gemma’s take on what is most commonly known as the most depressing month.

I sit writing on what is officially known as ‘Blue Monday’ and as the BBC define it:

” Blue Monday – also known as the most depressing day of the year.

Coined by psychologist Cliff Arnall in 2004, it falls on the third Monday in January every year.

He came up with it after a holiday company asked him for a “scientific formula” for the January blues.”

I was intrigued by this, and not to rub it in, but I have had an absolutely brilliant day! The sun has been shining, I have been doing the job I love (working in a school, teaching children), I’d remembered all my equipment, my sandwich at lunch tasted great and then I finished the day with a spot of yoga, as insisted on by my daughter and a home cooked meal. Lovely.

So, it got me thinking, as well as Blue Monday, January also has a bad reputation and reading a self help website I came across this statement:

“January is the cruellest month. It can feel more like a nightmarish 5-year time prison than a 30-day month. If you’re a university student, your firstessays and mocks of the academic year are due around now. For good little worker bees, various projects ramp up as the New Year begins to pick up speed. And that to the fact that it’s freezing and there’s only 5 hours of daylight a day, that’s a helluva cocktail for bad mental health.”

Hmmm. And there it is. Helpful comments about January. It sometimes feel like a cruel marketing ploy to get you actually believe it and this fits so well with one of the mindset sessions I was delivering to a class of Y5/6 children.

In this session we were talking about success, people we admire and what qualities these people have. It was lovely actually, even though I often get the usual YouTube celebs, footballers or famous singers, I also got stories about family members, mums and dads who ensure that they have a happy childhood, tea on the table and clean clothes to wear.

We then watched this video and I ask:

What did all these people have in common?

What qualities do they have?

The children came up with some cracking answers today such as determined, resilient, perseverance, self belief, desire to learn to name but a few. And the bit that rings with Blue Monday? All these people ignored what other people said and kept on going.

There has been a lot of research into the impact that other people’s opinions, words and actions have on others. The mouldy piece of fruit that when looked at the next day, has spread to the fruit around it in the bowl.

a single negative word can increase the activity in our amygdala (the fear center of the brain). This releases dozens of stress-producing hormones and neurotransmitters, which in turn interrupts our brains’ functioning.” (Andrew Newberg, M.D. and Mark Robert Waldman)

This is true about the medias desire with “Depressing January” and “Blue Monday.” The more we hear these words, the more we begin to believe it, the more we live up to the truth. But we have the power to change and not follow the opinion of someone else if we don’t want to. We have the power to change our thinking to more positive ones and defy the laws of expectation. What we do need is out backpack of skills that the children rattled off today. A determination to not let the cold weather and dark mornings affect our mood but flip the script in that the stars are always best in winter months, the owl, I can hear near my house, is out and about at 6pm and the crisp walks with our wellies make family time magical. Resilience that things will pass, bad things come and go, but we can learn from them. We persevere when things get tough and believe that happiness is something we create, not something ready made and we have the power to make January amazing, the start of new things, exciting projects, new adventures and endless opportunity, as long as we want it enough.

We have a saying here at Grow Your Mindset, “What you think, you will become.” Think sad, upsetting, depressing thoughts and the behaviour will follow. Think positively, with happy and optimistic thoughts and well….you know the rest.

To read more about the effect negative words have on our brain visit:

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The author

Gemma Sanchez, co-owner of Grow Your Mindset, has the passion for and has experienced the impact that developing a Growth Mindset can have on an individual’s belief, attitude and focus towards learning and life. With 15 years primary teaching experience (including 7 years Special Educational Needs Coordinator) she has seen how successful developing a Growth Mindset can be. Her mission is to share her knowledge and experience to empower individuals to think differently and cultivate a passion for learning, no matter what their age or position – making education better! Gemma formed Grow Your Mindset formally in September 2018 and is in the running for 2 prestigious awards this coming June for She Inspires – Women in Education award and the E3 Small business start up award. Sue is on a mission to make parenting easy and has teamed up with Nexus Education to help teacher through her extensive experience. Sue is on a mission to make parenting easy and has teamed up with Nexus Education to help teacher through her extensive experience.

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