ICAEW.com works better with JavaScript enabled.

How to beat Blue Monday

Author: ICAEW Insights

Published: 12 Jan 2024

CABA advises ICAEW members struggling with their mental health on how to get their year off to a good start psychologically.
Contributing to your CPD?

If this article is supporting your professional development, it can count towards your verifiable CPD hours. Use the pop up at the bottom right corner of your screen to add reading this article as an activity to your online CPD record.

As the third Monday in January, today is dubbed ‘Blue Monday’ – supposedly the most depressing day of the year when all the festive fun becomes a distant memory and those New Year resolutions fall by the wayside. It can also be one of the busiest months for accountants, with workloads increasing drastically, so how can they ensure they stay on top of their mental health during the darker days of January?

“While we can be sceptical about the concept and evidence behind ‘Blue Monday’, it can help us open up conversations about our mental health and to reach out to others,” says Cristian Holmes, CEO at caba, the occupational charity supporting ICAEW Chartered Accountants.

“We will have good and bad mental health days and these are individual to all of us. They can be affected by the seasons – it becomes harder in winter months to undertake exercise or be outdoors, for example, and the pressures to overindulge or run up debts can be prevalent in the festive season.” 

Holmes believes we should think about our mental health every day and try to protect it. “We could ensure that we regularly talk to someone about our feelings, keep active, eat well and ask for help if we are struggling,” he says.

To stay on top of your mental health during this time, Holmes suggests adding a Sunday evening routine, helping to create a calming atmosphere before the new week starts. “It should be something that allows you to be present, mindful, and enjoy the good things in life,” he says. “It could be as simple as getting closer to nature, working on improving sleeping patterns, exercising, eating healthily, helping others, journalling, or planning the things we are looking forward to.”

 January is a busy season for accountants and workloads often rise. Holmes suggests that If your workload becomes too much or client requests are too demanding, then you should flag it with your team. “It’s important not to try to take on everything by yourself,” he says. 

“Finding ways to separate our work from our everyday lives is essential. This can be difficult when you’re working from home, but it’s vital to avoid burnout. Be strict with your working hours. 

“You can help build separation by assigning a particular room of the house to use only for work, or if you must work from the kitchen table, make sure you put your laptop away at the end of the day. The environments in which we spend our time have an enormous impact on our work-life balance.” 

So how can accountants identify the signs that they might be struggling? “We all will feel down from time to time,” Holmes explains. “Keep an eye on how you are feeling, if you notice significant and lasting changes, such as sadness, anxiety, lack of energy, sleeping problems or the inability to enjoy things that usually give you pleasure, you might want to seek out professional support.

“You might feel that you have decreased concentration or decision-making abilities, are feeling less social, or are losing interest in things you used to enjoy. If these signs persist, it’s important to seek help from professionals, like your GP or caba, and talk to friends and family,” he says.

“It is important to stress that there is absolutely no shame in seeking support. We have long argued that there should be parity of esteem between our mental and physical health. Many of us can feel low or anxious sometimes, but when those feelings last for a consistent period or regularly return, they can start to control our lives and cause problems. 

“Long periods of low mental health can lead to more serious conditions, such as high-functioning anxiety and depression,” Holmes explains. “If you are worried about your mental health or just feel a niggle of doubt, you can contact us for confidential, non-judgemental support. At caba, we believe in providing tailored tools and resources to help you put your wellbeing first. 

“Ultimately, ‘good’ mental health is not the absence of negative thoughts or feelings. Instead, it's about understanding and managing these effectively.”

Mental health & wellbeing

ICAEW works with caba to promote the mental health of chartered accountants and their families. Take a look through these articles, guides, webinars and events.

ICAEW mental health wellbeing team bonding communication

Discover more from ICAEW Insights

Insights showcases news, opinion, analysis, interviews and features on the profession with a focus on the key issues affecting accountancy and the world of business.

Young woman working on laptop

caba helps the ICAEW community thrive through everyday situations to exceptional life-changing circumstances.

Mature man working at computer
Support Members Scheme

The ICAEW Support Members Scheme is a free, confidential support line for ICAEW Chartered Accountants and their family members.

Leadership and HR
Female boss with colleagues
Employee wellbeing

Books, articles and guides on well-being, stress management and physical and mental health in the workplace.

Browse resources
Open AddCPD icon

Add Verified CPD Activity

Introducing AddCPD, a new way to record your CPD activities!

Log in to start using the AddCPD tool. Available only to ICAEW members.

Add this page to your CPD activity

Step 1 of 3
Download recorded
Download not recorded

Please download the related document if you wish to add this activity to your record

What time are you claiming for this activity?
Mandatory fields

Add this page to your CPD activity

Step 2 of 3
Mandatory field

Add activity to my record

Step 3 of 3
Mandatory field

Activity added

An error has occurred
Please try again

If the problem persists please contact our helpline on +44 (0)1908 248 250