The concept – which was first coined by physiologist Cliff Arnall back in 2004 – suggests that the third Monday of every January is “the most depressing day of the year”, with a theory that essentially claims that this is the time of year when we’re all cold, broke and riddled with guilt that our New Year’s resolutions to get fit, drink less alcohol, and be a better human being, have fallen by the wayside.
It’s certainly been met with its skeptics over the years for a number of reasons, but of course in 2021, we’re also dealing with yet another national lockdown on top of those annual January difficulties.
One Manchester-based business is proving to be the perfect antidote to those dreary days though – and it “exists to remind people that we are all just humans”.
If you’re local to the city centre, you may know the Feel Good Club from the success of its brand-new wellbeing-focused cafe – which opened in the heart of the Northern Quarter in October of last year – but the movement actually started humbly as an Instagram page filled with uplifting messages and top tips by founders Kiera and Aimie Lawlor-Skillen.
The carefully-curated social media page is aimed at normalising the stigma around mental health and has since flourished into a successful platform of 177K+ followers.
And through consistently posting inspirational quotes to live by, daily reminders to keep you in check, and “things you need to hear” all in aesthetically-pleasing pastel-coloured squares, alongside picture updates from the coffee house and the owners themselves – even their four-legged friend – following Feel Good Club on Instagram is one of the biggest favours you can do yourself this Blue Monday.
We don’t know exactly what this year ahead will bring, but we know that becoming a member of the Feel Good Club community with just one simple social media follow is something you won’t regret.
Whether you believe the concept of Blue Monday to be somewhat of a myth or not, there’s no denying that repetitive lockdowns and ongoing restrictions amid the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic have had a detrimental effect on mental health in the UK, with the latest studies by leading mental health charity MIND finding that more than half of adults (60%) and over two thirds of young people (68%) said their mental health got worse during the first lockdown.
And both people with and without previous experience of mental health problems reported poor mental health and wellbeing during that period too.
Google search data compiled by Feel Good Club also showed the increasingly-worrying rise in mental health searches, with a 25% uplift in the UK overall, and searches for how to deal with anxiety also up by 53%, how to cope with OCD up 89%, and searches for tips on how to cope with depression up 67% too.
So yes, while it is true that these “unprecedented times” we are living through are affecting some of us more than others, it is nevertheless taking its toll on us all – and it’s absolutely okay to acknowledge this.
Help is out there.
If you or anyone you know is struggling right now, please know that you are never alone and there are many different places you can reach out to for support right here in Greater Manchester.
Suffering in silence never need be the way.
Manchester Mind – An organisation that has supported people in Manchester for over 30 years. Most services are now available over the phone, by email or video call. The number is 0161 769 5732 and the opening hours are Mon – Fri 10am – 2pm.
Drivers could be fined for using common ‘thank you gestures’ on UK roads
Motorists are being warned that some common unspoken rules of the road could actually see them hit with a hefty fine.
Given that us Brits are known for our manners and being polite, it has become common practice for drivers across the country to use a number of popular gestures to say thank you to our fellow road users when they give way to us, let us into a junction or lane, or just generally do something to help us out on the road.
A quick wave, thumbs up, or a flash of the headlights takes just a second to do, but the kindness goes a long way and helps to keep the peace.
In fact, when another driver doesn’t say thank you, we tend to think it’s pretty rude.
To prove this point, a new study of UK drivers was conducted by National Tyres and Autocare, and it found that one in five drivers choose to flash their headlights to say thanks, while one in three like to give a classic wave, and then one in six opt for a simple thumbs up.
But did you know that some of these gestures are actually in breach of the Highway Code and could end up landing us in a bit of trouble and see us have to fork out money if we’re caught in the act?
In some cases, fines can rack up as high as £1,000.
When it comes to flashing our headlights to say thank you, rule 110 of the Highway Code actually states that we should “only flash headlights to let other road users know that you are there”, and we should not do not flash them to “convey any other message or intimidate other road users”.
Using hazard lights is another common way to say thank you, but again, according to rule 116 of the Highway code: “You must not use hazard warning lights while driving or being towed unless you are on a motorway or unrestricted dual carriageway and you need to warn drivers behind you of a hazard or obstruction ahead.”
It’s stated that we should only use hazard lights “for long enough to ensure that your warning has been observed”, and nothing more.
By far the most common way to say thank you on the road during the daytime is to give a classic wave or thumbs up, but according to rule 160 of the Highway Code, once moving a vehicle you should “drive or ride with both hands on the wheel or handlebars where possible as this will help you to remain in full control of the vehicle at all times”.
It adds: “You may use driver assistance systems while you are driving but make sure you use any system according to the manufacturer’s instructions.”
The latter of these common thank you gestures is the one that could land drivers in the most trouble if caught, as not only can fines rack up to £1,000, but being in breach of having proper control of your vehicle could also mean discretionary disqualification, and three penalty points on your licence as well.
A Manc photographer is taking beautiful on-the-spot portraits around the city
There are about a hundred and one brilliant photographers taking pictures around the city centre every day, but most of them tend to focus on the macro scale of things — snapping our lovely architecture, long shots of our rain-soaked streets, parades of morning commuters and so on.
So, when we stumbled across this lovely little TikTok account showcasing some of the most simple but beautiful portraits you’ll see anywhere online, all taken around the streets of our beloved city, it understandably caught our attention.
Manc photographer Scott James, or ‘certigrammer‘ as he goes by online, makes his living doing everything from weddings and commercials shoots to music videos, taking photos for Sheffield United and more, but we happened to come across a more recent pastime of his: taking pictures of strangers.
People are clearly chiming with his casual, understated and fundamentally wholesome style. So are we, and it’s not hard to see why.
Perhaps most impressively, it seems like he’s only been at this particular kind of photography for a little over a week and is already pulling in thousands of well-earned views across his social media.
As you can see, there is a very candid nature to his approach; he snaps people just going about their business and even when he stops people on the spot and asks if they’d be willing to pose, he still manages to capture that impromptu and organic vibe.
From happy couples and randomers on the street, to complimenting an old boy on his style, he photographs people from all walks of life.