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Footballers get ready for the most depressing day of the year

If you are old enough to remember the 1980s, the chances are that you will remember New Order's Blue Monday. Back in the days when vinyl and record players were all the rage, Blue Monday spent something like 50 consecutive weeks in the UK top 40.

But Blue Monday is also the name given to the most depressing day of the year. There is even a formula that dictates which day of the year Blue Monday falls on, taking into account factors such as weather, post-Christmas depression and loss of motivation.

This year, and depending on who you believe, Blue Monday is on Monday, January 23 - although some people will tell you that Blue Monday fell on January 16 this year.

Despite the formula that apparently works out the correct date, one school of thought says that Blue Monday falls on the Monday of the last full week of January each year, making January 23 this year's Blue Monday on that basis.

Whatever date you go for, January can be a depressing time - and if you thought footballers and other people within the game are immune to the January blues, think again.

All is not always as it might seem

Gary Speed's death - and the admission by Dean Windass that he tried to commit suicide - highlights that all is not always as it might seem.

In the case of Windass, it appears that coping with life after the adulation that went hand in hand with his career as a player was one of the key problems for him. The same thing happened to Frank Bruno and Paul Gascoigne. 

It's all very well jumping on the bandwaggon and wondering how footballers can be depressed if they earn millions, but players can find themselves under immense pressure compared to the average football fan.

Imagine being subjected to abuse week in week out by opposition fans. Is it any wonder that occasionally they snap? And why do they get such a hard time when they do?

Bottling up feelings can cause problems for anyone, professional footballers included.

Footballers are not immune

Blue Monday is the day of the year when people feel at their lowest, fed up and, in some cases, depressed and even suicidal. And footballers are not immune, they can be affected by the same issues that the rest of us face and sometimes those problems can weigh even heavier.

Dan Collinson, a specialist in Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP) explains: “Blue Monday is the day of the year where a culmination of factors hits hard for a lot of people - and that includes footballers, managers, coaches and anyone involved in football.

“January is a bad month for many people and a big anti climax after the build up to Christmas and the festive period itself. There is a sense of purpose for most people in December as they prepare for Christmas, followed by the happiness they experience when they see friends and family over the festive period. Then the post-Christmas blues set in.”

A feeling of post-Christmas deflation, the weather, financial issues made worse because of Christmas spending, back to work stress or feelings associated with being out of work, and often a feeling of lack of purpose are all factors contributing to depression in January.

“The excitement of the Christmas and new year festivities makes way for a hole when you have to return to work, social events tail off and financial issues kick in,” added Collinson. “All of this combined leads people to suffer a dip in their mood, sometimes manifesting itself as depression.

Huge pressure

"This can hit footballers harder, as they are often dealing with huge pressure. They want to give off an image of self confidence. But if they bottle it up it can make the situation worse.

“What tends to happen is that people start to feel bad about one thing in their life then it starts a train of thought that other areas of their life are not going well either.

"With professional footballers, these feelings can include concerns about their next contract, keeping their place in the team and so on."

Collinson says footballers in particular can be at risk. "They may be at the top of their game, earning lots of money, but they are human like the rest of us.

"Footballers, managers and others within the game often suffer more because they are in the limelight and are constantly expected to perform at their best."

The cycle can be broken

But there is some good news. For anyone suffering from the January blues, the cycle can be broken.

“There are some simple things that anyone can do to reverse those negative feelings - and that includes footballers, managers, coaches and anyone involved in the game.

"Instead of focusing on what you perceive as problems, if you set yourself goals for 2012 – in all the key areas of your life – and think of what you can do to achieve those goals, you will give yourself a sense of purpose and feel better.

"And just feeling more positive and more focused is a key factor in helping you to achieve your goals.

“I work with a lot of people who feel down in January and by helping to set some very simple and achievable goals, they not only feel better about themselves but they also start to achieve the things they want to.”

If you’d like more information on how to beat the January blues, Dan Collinson can be contacted on 07971 003 441 or by email at dan.collinson@into-tomorrow.com.

By Mark Roach 


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