Today is apparently the most depressing day of the year, and so named ‘Blue Monday’. Woman Alive’s deputy editor, Jemimah Wright considers what we can do to make this day better and not simply succumb to the negative associations with this time of year.
Today has been named ‘Blue Monday’, according to….a UK travel company (!) it is apparently the most depressing day of the year in the UK. Sky Travel published this information in 2005 after claiming to have calculated the date using an undisclosed ’equation’ taking into account weather conditions in the Northern Hemisphere.
Blue Monday is now set as the third Monday of the month in January, so well done to the Sky Travel marketing team, as the term has stuck. But how do we, as Christians, respond to the day?
Here is my suggestion: we laugh at it, and I honestly think it is what Jesus would have done.
(Before I explain, I want to note that this is not taking into account those who suffer from depressive illness.)
As Christians we don’t have to come under our circumstances i.e. the cold weather, the darkness of night creeping in at 3pm, the barren trees, and the empty bank accounts after Christmas. But that is easier said than done, right?
Of course to keep our souls light, we need to keep pursuing God in this time, but also, I think there is a seemingly less obvious antidote to Blue Monday, and that, as I said, is laughter.
Charlie Chaplin is claimed to have said, “A day without laughter is a day wasted.”
Charlie Chaplin is claimed to have said, “A day without laughter is a day wasted.” And writer Anne Lamott is quoted as saying: “Laughter is carbonated holiness.”
My personal comedy favourites which genuinely to make me laugh out loud are TV shows The Flight of the Concords and Parks and Recreation. I think comedian Amy Poehler is particularly funny. These may not be your type of humour, but what is it that makes you chuckle?
Maybe it’s a Laurel and Hardy slapstick, or the wit of comedians like Milton Jones. Maybe you have a friend who always makes you laugh. If so, make a point of calling them or better still, spending time with them today.
Whatever it is, this Blue Monday, my prescription to you is to take three doses of comedy at breakfast, lunch and dinner.
This may not seem very holy, but the Bible is all about laughter. Hebrews 1:9 describes Jesus this way: ‘…God has set you above your companions by anointing you with the oil of joy.’
Jesus himself was filled with joy! He must have been fun to be around.
Proverbs 31:25 talks of the woman being, ‘…clothed with strength and dignity; she can laugh at the days to come.’
Laughing is a form of spiritual warfare. A sign of faith and not fear. In Psalm 2:4 we read: ‘The One enthroned in heaven laughs; the Lord scoffs at them.’ God knows the end of the story, and that is why he can laugh.
Laughter boosts the immune system, decreasing stress hormones and increasing immune cells and infection-fighting antibodies.
But laughter is also good for our health. Proverbs 17:22 says: ‘A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.’
If you need more convincing, here are some facts about laughter: Laughter relaxes the whole body, relieving stress and tension. It boosts the immune system, decreasing stress hormones and increasing immune cells and infection-fighting antibodies.
Read more on mental health
Laughter also protects the heart, by improving the function of blood vessels and increasing blood flow, which can help protect you against a heart attack and other cardiovascular problems. Nothing diffuses anger and conflict faster than a shared laugh. Looking at the funny side can put problems into perspective and enable you to move on from confrontations without holding onto bitterness or resentment.
So this Blue Monday, do what Jesus would do, and laugh. And the great thing is that laughing is contagious, so as you chose joy, you will be affecting people around you.
And next year I’m hopeful that maybe, just maybe we can rename Blue Monday to Happy Monday?!