After a relentless 2020, the idea of having a day so early in 2021 that is described as the gloomiest day of the year seems unfair to say to least.

But the third Monday of the year – 18 January 2021 – is known as ‘Blue Monday’. And there are multiple reasons why it’s earned its title as the most cheerless day in the UK calendar.

The festive cheer has disappeared, leaving post-Christmas debt. If we’ve set New Year resolutions, apparently Blue Monday is when they start to fail. Let’s not forget the bad weather and early nights which make things seem gloomier.

In 2021 the January blues may hit even harder due to coronavirus restrictions, with people not being able to celebrate Christmas the way they wanted.

And of course there’s also the uncertainty around Brexit and the implications on businesses this brings.

Last, and by no means least, despite the hopes of a vaccine rollout we still have the effects and restrictions of the pandemic to navigate.

The impact Blue Monday has on employees

In the workplace, productivity, positivity and morale all take a plummet around this dull day – with many employees who work from home finding it increasingly difficult to cope with loneliness and isolation.

There’s no denying it all adds up to a pretty gloomy mix.

As an employer, staff mental health should be a firm priority (we posted about how employees can protect their wellbeing, here).

And whether your staff are remote, on-site or a mix of the two, it might take some work as an employer to brighten up the gloomiest day in the UK calendar.

Connect for a tea break

Working from home has kept a huge part of the UK workforce safe from infection, but it can also be a solitary existence.

That’s why emotional support charity Samaritans is encouraging as many people as possible to reach out with a cup of tea and a chat as part of its Brew Monday event.

Gathering together to talk can be done virtually for remote teams as well as in-person for physical workplaces, and discussing our feelings to someone we know can be a first step in tackling the blues.

Get outside

We all know that taking enough exercise and being active day-to-day is crucial for mental as well as physical health.

So to mark Blue Monday, perhaps give employees an extra-long lunch break or time during the day with the aim that they get more outdoor time in nature. Of course, this might not be ideal for every business.

But there’s increasing evidence that spending time in green surroundings as often as possible can help with mental wellbeing.

Wellbeing every day

At RHL Recruitment we identified that employees are more likely to be more engaged and loyal to a company, if the employer prioritises protecting mental health.

And whether or not the third Monday in January is really the bleakest, the truth is that every day in the calendar can be a struggle for people living with mental illness and depression.

Once Blue Monday has been and gone, there’ll still be a simple fact: Doing things every day of the year to try and protect your employees’ mental health is a good idea – and given what we as a nation have just lived through, this is true more than ever.

Find out more

To find out more, the Mind has more information for employers on mental health at work.