This coming Monday is the day popularly believed to be the most miserable day of the year – AKA Blue Monday.

Children North East recognises that depression is a truly debilitating mental illness and something that can affect anybody at any time.

We spoke to Rhoda Morrow, one of Children North East's brilliant counsellors at the Young People's Service based at Graingerville, which is partly supported by players of the People’s Postcode Lottery for some top advice on how to cope if you're feeling low.

Dark time of year

For many people it can feel like January drags on and on. If you are poor or out of work or struggling with your mental health, it can feel like a very dark time of year.

“For people who work, Blue Monday may be a depressing day because Christmas has worn off and your next holiday seems so far away. It is probably still a week or two till pay day and you may be feeling the strain on your finances.

Student worries

“However, in the world of most young people these factors won’t take effect. University students are often worried earlier in January for their termly exams. A-level students and some GCSE students may have mocks or exams.

"But for the bulk of young people, by the 21st January you’re just back into the swing of being at school or college and this will feel like another day of the week.”

"Every day seems far away from pay day"

And whilst this time of year can get everybody down to some extent, it particularly hits those living in poverty says Rhoda.

“For many families experiencing poverty, every day seems far away from pay day and all the nice food and stuff you did manage to buy for the seasonal holiday may be running out. If you are a young adult living away from home, January can seem a let-down after seeing people more during the holidays.

“Or maybe you just feel rubbish knowing you didn’t have family around but at least Christmas cheered you up. Children in care will often see their family more over school holidays, some may not see their family at all. Our counselling service has seen every version of this play out and the impact it has on people.”

"Everyone is struggling with their own battle"

She adds that people who were already critical of themselves may feel extra pressure as they see others make resolutions and appear to be making changes in their lives so easily.

“It can feel easier to blame yourself when you can’t change how you look or what you eat. But remember that people online will be faking a lot of how much they have really done, how good it feels or how good they look. Everyone is struggling with their own battle,” Rhoda says.

Top Tips

  • Get outside if you can and seek out any sun you can.
  • Even a short walk during the day could lift your mood.
  • If you’re estranged from certain family members or friends, scrolling down your timeline might be painful. So take care to focus on who you do have, not who you don’t. And sometimes, this means limiting what’s on the screen right in front of you.

Talk to someone

Here at Children North East we know mental health problems cannot be attached to a certain day and depression is a serious illness.

If you are feeling mentally unwell it is better to talk to someone about what is going on, seek some help and try to make small changes that are appropriate for you and will help you start to face some of the difficult parts of your day.

It is normal to feel unhappy some of the time… or fed up or annoyed with how your life is going. If you are really struggling with this or just can’t find the motivation to do anything maybe it is time to do something about it. Talk through what is realistic and possible with someone you trust or someone impartial.

More tips

You can also find some helpful tips here:
Beating Seasonal Affective Disorder 
Ways to ease Seasonal 

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