Making Mondays Better. Banishing the Blues.

How we feel about things has a lot to do with our mindset – our perceptions. We talk about the Monday Morning Blues as if it really exists. Nothing tangible happens on a Monday that doesn’t happen on a Tuesday. It’s just that Monday follows Sunday – our day off. Tuesday follows Monday, and because we have negative perceptions of Monday, Tuesday automatically feels better. Wednesdays are pretty dismal because they are the point of no return for the week. On Thursday the weekend is closer. On Friday we just have to hold on for a few hours and then it’s the weekend. It’s all mental tricks. For each day we have a particular perception that frames our experience of it.

So let’s start by giving your most recent Monday a rating out of ten. Where one equals ‘terrible’ and ten equals ‘brilliant’. If it’s a low score such as a three or a four, then ask why is it as high as that and not a two or a one.  This is a technique I use in my coaching practice. How did it get to a three of four? This way you will focus on the things that make your typical Monday bearable. Why is it not an absolute zero? At this point, I suggest that waking up above ground counts for, at least, a score of one. You can then ask yourself, what you can imagine yourself doing to take yourself one point up the scale, or even just a half a point. Now try doing it.

Begin Monday, or any day, by asking yourself what three things you are looking to that day, however small. Write them down. If you can’t think of anything then create something to look forward to that will become part of your Monday routine. At the end of each Monday, write down three things you were grateful for that day, however small.

Ask yourself what score would Monday need to be, realistically,  for it to be ‘good enough’. Does it have to be an eight, nine or ten? Would a five, six, or seven be good enough?

Finally, why not apply the same strategy to all days of the week? Try it everyday for a month. Yes of course, these are just mental tricks, but as mental tricks got you into this frame of mind in the first place, it’s only sounds reasonable that you should give them a chance to get you out of the Monday blues. . . and to help you balance those negative perceptual filters for life in general.

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Look Out! Look Out! Psychobabble Blue Monday is About! The Most Gullible Day of the Year

Every year I get asked by journalists and producers to comment on ‘Blue Monday’. . .the supposed most depressing day of the year based on a cod-equation. Every year I tell them that it’s just a PR exercise dreamed up by a PR company to promote a travel company to encourage us to cheer ourselves up by ‘booking a holiday’. One factor in the equation includes the longest gap between paydays. . which means ‘blue monday’ always falls in January, since most people are paid earlier in December so they can spend, spend, spend at Christmas.

So isn’t it just a harmless bit of fun? Well apart from bringing the subject of psychology into disrepute and trivializing depression. . . surely it’s just an innocent bit of trivia to fill a few column inches or tag onto the end of a news programme.  I hoping that the story would have gone away by now, but every year it re-appears like a  kind of journalistic herpes!

So why does it matter to me? Well, I was one of the psychologists originally approached , 22 December 2004, by a PR company with a pre-written equation that they were going to ‘validate’ by ‘research’. They wanted a male psychologist as it would carry more weight.  I turned it down explaining that “I don’t support ‘made-up’ psychology”. The PR company, of course, went on to find someone who would put their name to it.

I’m not anti-media and have fronted campaigns for the Learning and Skills Council to promote adult learning.  If I can legitimately bring evidenced-based psychology to the campaign and its a worthwhile message and it isn’t for a company with dodgy values then I’ll consider it.

It’s no point in protesting that ‘Blue Monday’ is anything but a PR stunt. It doesn’t tell the general public anything about evidence-based psychology. It just illustrates how psychology can be mis-used and gives the impression of the psychologist as ‘side-show, snake-oil peddler  (in my opinion).

So there you have it. May I urge you all on ‘Psychobable Blue Monday’ to go out and do something nice for someone else. Pay someone a compliment, give a small gift, or just smile and pass on good cheer. . . but whatever you do. . . don’t feel manipulated to book a holiday! And if you do make sure it’s not with the company peddling the cod-psychology! And always, always be aware of ‘psychological formulae’. There’s a quote from systems expert Checkland who said ‘Life’s too quixotic to be modelled’.