At this time of year there’s always a lot written about Blue Monday, allegedly the ‘most depressing day of the year’. Blue Monday is the brainchild of American psychologist Dr. Cliff Arnall who in 2005 created a complex formula covering everything from the weather to motivation levels to calculate when people would most feel down. This year, Blue Monday falls today.
While we all suffer from the post-Christmas blues, in truth, there’s little to suggest that today will be any more depressing than any other day of the year.
However, Blue Monday does encourage us to think about a very important issue for all of us – mental wellbeing. Recent research carried out by Hammerson found that over 1 in 4 people in the UK regularly feel lonely, rising to 37% among 18 – 34 year olds. Around 1 in 5 people frequently feel that they lack companionship, and, worryingly, 35% of 18 – 34 year olds say they often or always feel isolated.
There are a lot of issues at play here, from the rise of social media to declines in exercise levels, and there are many people more qualified than me working on solutions. But what I can say is that physical venues such as malls and high streets have a role to play.
Now of course you’d expect a Landlord to say that, but bear with…
Visiting one of our destinations, whether that’s to shop, to eat, or even to go bowling, brings people together, provides an opportunity to interact with others, and also encourages exercise, even if that’s just walking to your favourite store.
Our research found that for 43% of people, walking when shopping is usually the only exercise they get, and that rises to 52% amongst 18-34 year olds. Similarly, 58% of young people said that visiting shops can sometimes be the only time they interact with people on a daily basis. This is important, because exercise and engaging with friends and family have a really positive effect on our state of mind.
Thankfully it’s not all bad news – 53% of people say that interacting with others while shopping helps boost their confidence, and 71% say that being amongst people when shopping is good for their mental wellbeing.
At Hammerson, we’re committed to bringing people together by providing a great experience – whether that’s by offering a compelling range of shops, restaurants and leisure options at our flagship destinations, or by organising unique events and experiences.
Our centres also do some really great work with local charities and community groups to support people and their mental wellbeing. For example, Brent Cross in London has supported BOOST Childs Hill, a local jobs and advice project, and the Oracle, Reading offers up its meeting rooms to charities like Berkshire Youth, and Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services. On top of that, last year Highcross in Leicester provided free space to the Samaritans and Time to Change for their “R U OK Today” campaign. We also have quiet rooms at a number of our centres, which can be used by people who experience panic or anxiety attacks, or just need a bit of time out. But we know that we can always do more and that will continue to be a focus for us in 2019.
So this week, instead of worrying about Blue Monday, why not meet a friend for a coffee, or take your mum out for a meal. And most of all, take the time to think about what you need as an individual, and what’s best for you and your health.
Group Head of Sustainability, Hammerson
To contact Citizens Advice, call 03444 111 444, or alternatively visit their website at https://www.citizensadvice.org.uk/
To speak to someone at the mental health charity Mind, call 0300 123 3393, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
To contact Samaritans, call 116 123 or email email@example.com.
 This research was conducted online by FTI’s Strategy Consulting & Research team, from 11th – 14th September 2018, with 3,120 adults representative of the UK general population