From the Counsellor’s Chair

Posted: 14th January 2022

Creating space and ‘Blue Monday’.

This year’s St Augustine’s Priory theme, Creating Space, has never been so important and our Counsellor and Play Therapist, Mrs R Good, here tells us one way to create space for ourselves and for others.

‘Blue Monday, which typically falls on the third Monday of January and this year is on the 17th January, has been dubbed that most depressing day of the year.  Whilst bad weather and short daylight hours, post financial strains of Christmas and broken New Year’s resolutions can make us feel down, there is no credible evidence to say that any one particular day in the year increases the risk of people feeling depressed.  One in six people will experience depression in their lifetime which can happen at any time and not one day only.

The concept of Blue Monday was the creation of Sky Travel in 2005 which conceived a formula to calculate the day with the highest depression factor.  Despite its pseudo-scientific origins, social media continues to use the date as a means of encouraging us to buy products to improve our health, fitness and general well-being.  But some positives have come out of it.  The Samaritans have turned Blue Monday into ‘Brew Monday’ since handing out cups of tea to morning commuters in Edinburgh’s Waverley Station as a means of ‘reaching out, checking in and staying connected.’ Its website,, highlights the value of listening through the Samaritans’ SHUSH active listening tips.

(What ‘SHUSH’ stands for:

S-how you care: Focus on the other person, make eye contact, put away your phone.

H-ave patience: It may take time and several attempts before a person is ready to open up.

U-se open questions: Use open questions that need more than a yes/no answer, and follow up with questions like “Tell me more”.

S-ay it back: Check you’ve understood, but don’t interrupt or offer a solution.

H-ave courage: Don’t be put off by a negative response and, most importantly, don’t feel you have to fill a silence.)

Perhaps the true meaning of Blue Monday is to recognise we all have mental health, that’s it’s not about one day but every day, it affects people in different ways on any day of the year, and the need to listen when someone shares how they are feeling. The past few months have shown us that recognising distress, staying connected, engaging in a new way of life, talking to someone we know, keeping active and having a good diet has never been so important.  So, over the next few weeks as the ‘new me’ wanes, acknowledging your feelings, being self-compassionate, making small rather than drastic changes, and thinking what there is to be grateful for may go some way in helping to lift the spirit and keep those blues away.’

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