Your Reading List & recommendations

Blue Monday: 4 tips for staying cheerful and positive

Monday 21st January is “Blue Monday”. According to a complicated (and somewhat dubious) formula the third Monday of January is apparently the bleakest day of the year, the one where we feel at our most gloomy and least resourceful.

It’s down to a combination of post-Christmas blues, a shortage of cash after seasonal overspending, the premature failure of New Year resolutions and the colder, darker nights. Put like that, they may have a point.

If your colleagues at work seem especially grumpy on Monday then at least you’ll know why. But although Blue Monday began as a bit of fun by a holiday company’s PR agency it does make a valid point. Increasingly, workplace happiness is something that organisations and their employees are taking more seriously.

Last summer, for example, Northumbria Water asked O2 to host a design sprint around workplace happiness at their NWG Innovation Festival. Our brief was to lead six teams focused on innovative ways to create a “happier, healthier and safer workforce”. The groups came up with a range of potential ideas, many of which focused on the mental health issues related to workplace happiness.

There are several studies linking workplace happiness to productivity too, including this one by Harvard Business Review, which found that a happy and engaged workforce increases sales by 37%.

O2’s Head of HR, Ann Pickering, has written a few posts recently about employee engagement and workplace happiness. In this blog, for example, Ann outlines how the trust and flexibility afforded to all O2 employees enable them to be there for the important things in life, like a child’s school nativity play or a family occasion. But workplace happiness is about more than flexible hours and remote working. It needs to be embedded in the working culture. Ann shared her thoughts on organisational culture, and how O2’s own culture drives everyone throughout the organisation.

Back to Blue Monday itself and you may need some help to shield yourself from the negativity of people around you. Here are a few tips:

1. It’s not for real

Above all else remember that Blue Monday isn’t a real thing. It’s a bit of fun. Your colleagues may take it seriously, but you don’t have to. The original research was supposedly conducted by an academic at a Further Education centre attached to Cardiff University – The university was quick to distance itself from the research.

2. Get up and out

There’s precious little sunshine in January, so if it makes a rare appearance on Monday why not take a five-minute break outside instead of at your desk? While you’re about it, make Monday the day that you have a proper breakfast, take your full lunch break, and pick up that healthy eating regime you started at New Year but forgot soon after?

3. Plan something

We all need something to look forward to, whether it’s a meal in for two, a party at the weekend or a summer holiday that you need to plan and book. Whatever it is, get planning.

4. Turn Blue Monday on its head

Instead of succumbing to the doom and gloom, why not make Blue Monday a day for good causes? A big yellow charity bucket in the middle of the office with a modest fine for any negative comment made during the day should do the trick.


Still need a boost? Then take heed from the original author of the research, who told The Independent newspaper in 2018 that it was “never his intention to make the day sound negative”, but rather “to inspire people to take action and make bold life decisions”.

Now that really should inspire you on a Monday.

All articles


Public sector

Safe & secure


Tech advice

Work smarter