This is not a January Love Song

January.  It’s the beginning of a new year. Many individuals make resolutions and goals in order to imagine a brighter future in the coming months.  We throw a huge party December 31st to celebrate that all too important January 1st date.  But why do I have that song “I don’t like Mondays” by The Boomtown Rats running over and over in my head since January 1 to the point that I now routinely find myself singing “I don’t like Januarys”?  It’s funny that Bob Geldof, who spearheaded the feel good Live Aid, wrote “I Don’t like Mondays”.  He wrote it based on a shooting incident that occurred in 1979 at an elementary school in San Diego (yes those happened back then as well as now) where two adults were killed and eight children injured.  The shooter explained her (yes it was a her) actions by stating “I don’t like Mondays.” This livens up the day.” Wowzer.

 

Monday: It’s the beginning of the week and as such it should be full of promise. We should feel energized after a weekend of rest. But, alas, many individuals dread Mondays because the actual promise that Mondays bring are another full week chock full of impossible work tasks that need to be accomplished in the days ahead, countless meetings that one will have to sit through instead of doing the work that needs to get done and numerous staff meltdowns that are likely to occur throughout the week.    Some psychologists have posited that the case of the “Monday Blues”, are a result of Mondays not being Saturday.  Saturdays are a day of freedom for many of us, where you get to say “whew, thank god that week is over”.

 

Tell me why?

I don’t like Mondays.

Tell me why?

I don’t like Mondays.

Tell me why?

I don’t like Mondays.

I want to shoot

The whole day down.

 

In an Australian study, researchers found that people recall, over a one week period, hitting an emotional low point on Mondays.  There is even now an organization to beat the Monday blues: http://www.beatbluemonday.org.uk/.

 

However, we need to be mindful that job stress build ups throughout the week starting from Monday.   And by Wednesday, the day we refer to as hump day, anxiety and stress rises dramatically. Consequently, there may be more suicides on Wednesdays than on Mondays despite the urban myth that Mondays are a high suicide day. Ok. This is getting into the depressing here. What do you expect, I just came off of a series of fruitless and senseless meetings?  But, all this is to say we need to be mindful of how we manage our workload anxiety buildup and perhaps cut Mondays some slack.  You may be setting the week up for failure in some ways if you continue to stereotype Mondays as a dreadful day.

Now, while we may want to cut Mondays some slack, I want to note that Januarys have taken up the general “suckiness” slack.  For starters, there is something that is also called the “January Effect.”  In the large scheme of things the effect isn’t so bad.  Basically between December 31 and the end of the first week in January there is an overall increase in stock prices.  That actually doesn’t affect me very much as I am a non-profit manager that doesn’t play the stock market other than holding some 401k investments.  However, there is the commonly held belief that the performance of the stock market in January guides the rest of the year. That’s a lot riding on the month of January.

 

How many of you made New Year’s resolutions? How many of you have followed through with them?  It’s the end of January and I can bet those New Year’s resolutions, for many of you are out the window at this point.  Seems that January just sets one up for feelings of inadequacy. Some have even referred to January as the December hangover as the bills are coming due and the toys we got in December are losing their luster.  In a survey released last year, almost half of Brits surveyed reported that January was the most depressing of  the year.

 

Let me ask you this. When is the last time you caught a good movie in the theaters in the month of January?  Did you know the movies “Spice World,” “Bio Dome,” “Kangaroo Jack,” and “House Party 3” were all released in January?  January is the month where bad movies go to be burned off in the theaters.

 

Historically, Januarys have been tough.  Back in January 30, 1933 Adolf Hitler was named chancellor of Germany.  We all know how that ended.  On January 30, 1948  Gandhi was assassinated.  Back on January 16, 1919 the 18th amendment to the constitution prohibiting the sale of alcohol was ratified.  The horror!

 

In 2007, Dr Cliff Arnall of Cardiff University calculated that Monday 22nd January is ‘the worst day of the year’ using six factors: weather, debt, time since Christmas, time since failing new year’s resolutions, low motivational levels and the feeling of a need to take action.  I don’t believe his calculations were truly all that scientific but it sure does lend fodder to the belief that Mondays and Januarys can bring on the blues.

 

Some positive events have occurred in January as well. For instance, Thomas Paine published Common Sense in January 1776.  But considering the state of the economy, the looming sequestration and the other pressing national policies that are currently being debated, common sense is not plentiful and appears gone for the long haul.

 

So, as January comes to an end let’s celebrate the arrival of the often neglected little month of February.  One the morning of February 1, do not forget to say “rabbit rabbit” for good luck!  And next year, remember the wise words of author Hal Borland, who said, “Summer is a promissory note signed in June and gone before you know it, and due to be repaid next January.”

 

P.S. Have you heard of the “July Effect”?  There is the urban myth that Julys are the worse time to get sick and go to a hospital because of the inexperienced residents that are starting their rotations.  You know what, I’m going to go out on a limb and say it is not so much an urban myth as a cautious tale based on data. In 2011, researchers found that patient death rates increased anywhere from 8 to 34 percent in July compared with other months. Ok.   So, stay tuned for July.