Returning to work, fatigue, debt and cold weather enhance feelings of loneliness for single people, and make already unhappy couples less tolerant of one another.
What is 'Blue Monday'?
In 2005, Sky Travel coined the term 'Blue Monday' in reference to the third Monday in January, which they deemed the most depressing day of the year. This year, Blue Monday will take place on January 16. But there's one important fact to know about Blue Monday: it isn't real. It's not based on real science or research; it's was merely a marketing gimmick invented to try to sell more vacations.
However, January can certainly be a long, depressing month. We may still feel fatigued after Christmas or have gained some extra weight, the weather is cold, the days are short, and we also may have financial concerns as our December bills hit our inboxes.
And with so many weeks of winter still to come, feelings of low mood and helplessness can affect our self esteem, and how we view our own relationship status.
If You're Single...
Being single can be hard. But if you don't have a partner, the impact of Blue Monday can be amplified.
Reality sinks in
The reality of Christmas, without the often helpful distractions of work and socialising, can put our single relationship status into painfully sharp focus. For a period that's supposed to be about reconnection and gratefulness, we often see increases in stress, expenditure, alcohol, potential for arguments with family - and are generally exposed to the most unpleasant side of people.
Feeling that something - or someone - is missing
If you live alone, you may feel that you don't have anyone to lift your spirits when you're feeling down, or the emotional support that those who are part of a couple can offer one another. Although the Importance of Relationships as positive contributors to our mental health and wellbeing should be acknowledged, stereotypes portraying single people as sad, lonely, insecure, and less satisfied - along with the increasing social pressure to find a partner and start a family - can be extremely damaging.
Due to a rise in social media use and oversharing, it can also be especially tough to see your friends and family moving forwards in their own relationships. But it’s also important to avoid comparing yourself with other, whether they are your family members, close friends, or online acquaintances. The Stress of Social Comparison is very real and has been repeatedly proven to damage our self esteem and overall wellbeing.
The reality is that you can never know all of the details of another person’s life or relationship. What looks like a perfect, fulfilling relationship in a social media post might look a lot different in real life - so don't try to compare yourself.
If You're in a Relationship...
Being in a relationship - or more specifically, the wrong relationship - can be even harder than being single.
According to research, Blue Monday is also the worst day of the year for couples old and new - as New Year's Resolutions to end unhappy relationships are put in to play. Indeed, there is a notable spike in divorce proceedings in the middle of January, with couples asking whether they are really as compatible as they thought they were.
Many couples are unsure as to whether they are in fact miserable within their relationships - or just having a serious case of the January blues.
Break-ups vs. Breakthroughs
We might be inclined to associate everything we didn't do; every missed opportunity, poor life choice, or perceived failing - with our choice of partner, continually asking 'what if?' But we'd actually be wrong to pin all of the blame the other person when our relationship appears to be buckling under the pressure.
Taking an analytical approach
So, what's the answer? The first step might be to stop making any flaws your partner has into such a big deal. The truth is, your relationship's intensity will peak and wane; and that's just life. Remember that your partner doesn't need to be your only form of solace, validation, social life or entertainment - so try to reduce the amount of emotional responsibility you put on them and work on yourself, too.
Sometimes, it's mutually beneficial to end unhealthy relationships, but it's also important that we consider every factor that may be contributing to the strain that we are feeling.
The hardest day of the week during the toughest month of the year is rarely going to be a time where we feel that we are the best versions of ourselves - so sometimes we can feel tempted to hide away, and not truly deal with the issues that we might be facing.
Do try to remember that as the seasons change, so will our mood, and how we respond to the World around us - including our prospective dates and existing relationships.
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