SO WE all got over the infamous “Blue Monday”. Of course, I forgot at first that it was the day I was supposed to channel more gloom than even these times dictate — but I needn’t have worried.
If Christmas is associated with “organised fun” then the third Monday in January has now become a symbol of forced joylessness. Several people replied to any hint of chirpiness in my greetings (“happy Monday”, anyone?) with a sober reminder of what date it was.
But is the “saddest day of the year” evidence-based? It’s a question Leah Kuntz asked this week in “The Myth of Blue Monday” in Psychiatric Times.
She notes no scientific studies support the claim that Blue Monday, the third Monday of January, is the most depressing day of the year.
The idea was sparked in 2005, when Welsh psychologist Cliff Arnall came up with a formula for the gloomiest day of the year to use for a holiday travel company, Sky Travel.
Factors included weather conditions, debt levels, time passed since Christmas, low motivation levels, and failing New Year’s resolutions.
And, as Kuntz notes, “this seemingly harmless marketing tactic meant to sell summer vacations grew far beyond its original purpose. Unfortunately, it became, as Arnal dubbed it, ‘a self-fulfilling prophecy’”.
Why be stare-at-the- walls miserable if those walls can make us happy?
But I think we need some happy thoughts right now. And with so many people working remotely and from home do we need to be told to be stare-at-the-walls miserable?
Of course not. Psychologist Lee Chambers argues that those same walls can, in fact, boost our mood through colour.
You see, walls “are an amplified focal point in a room which our eyes are naturally drawn to, instantly affecting our mood”, according to Chambers.
They and their colour can act as an antidote to any extra dose of “Monday blues”— whether that’s a January Monday or not.
An environmental psychologist, Lee discussed the psychological effect of both popular wall colours and feature wall designs with www.MyJobQuote.co.uk
when the website’s experts sought his advice.
As for the wall features he deems most impactful?
Wood panelling incites nature, which positively triggers and stimulates all our senses as we are subconsciously reminded of the natural world — something extremely important during lockdown.
Murals have the power to pull you into the scene that is pictured and can trigger the positive emotions you attach to the imagery.
Chambers suggests making murals personal to you, especially if placed in your home office to promote calmness and motivation.
Metallic walls are another way to integrate a natural element into your home, adding depth and sophistication to your surroundings. Psychologically they can be grounding.
Geometric patterns all promote different feelings. Squares make us feel stable, circles evoke harmony and triangles promote adaptability.
Pattern density is something to watch out for, however, as this can increase anxiety.
Stone is often the mainstay of kitchen worktops and bathrooms. This design is another natural element that promotes strength, and roots us in nature.
But for those of us with a passion for colour itself, what shades are deemed to make that mood-boosting magic happen?
Lee Chambers selected eight paint colours: green, grey, blue, pink, red, yellow, purple, and orange.
These were ranked via popularity dependent on the quantity of Instagram hashtags they are included in, like #greenwall.
Green ranks as the most popular wall colour with 73,902 Instagram hashtags. Lee Chambers notes that this colour has a refreshing quality which helps to clear your mind.
Green can be extra stimulating to those who are striving for personal growth as it subconsciously reminds us of the natural world.
Grey stands as the second most popular wall colour with 47,106 Instagram hashtags.
Combined with white it provides a crisp and refreshing atmosphere — believed to increase productivity. But watch out, as Chambers warns too dark a shade can dull your surroundings, “setting up a more depressing mood”.
Blue, a highly versatile shade, ranks as the third most popular wall colour with 38,799 Instagram hashtags. Chambers says it can be soothing and make you feel secure. However, much like grey, certain shades can evoke an element of coldness and sadness.
Pink ranks as the fourth most popular with 37,371 Instagram hashtags. In colour psychology pink is the colour of hope, making you feel empowered.
Red, with 21,865 hashtags, is the fifth most popular wall colour. Red exudes passion and excitement, stimulating people to converse and connect — perfect for Zoom calls.
But Chambers warns that “certain shades when subject to lighting can make people feel more aggressive and less compassionate.
Crimson, for instance, has been identified as “a colour to avoid for those whose emotions can easily overflow”.
Yellow follows with a total of 13,072 hashtags. Through generating a warm and cheerful aura it can instantly brighten your mood and promote imagination. But, adds Chambers, “darker shades of yellow have been shown to make babies cry more often, and cause tension”.
Purple, despite ranking seventh with just 7,163 hashtags, is identified by Chambers as the best colour for your home office as it brings a sense of balance and enhances creativity.
Orange, the colour of energy, is full of personality but might be too much of a statement for some; it stands as the least popular colour analysed, with 4,909 Insta hashtags. Lee warns that like red, orange can promote intense emotion.
For more on environmental psychologist Lee Chambers' research see www.leechambers.org