THE Diocese of Carlisle is trying to help banish the blues with a smile on what’s considered the most depressing day of the year.

‘Blue Monday’ today - Monday January 20 has previously been found to be the gloomiest day in the year.

Now the Diocese says it wants people to 'share a smile to help spread the message of Christian love, kindness and togetherness'.

The Bishop of Carlisle, the Rt Rev’d James Newcome, and Bishop of Penrith, the Rt Rev’d Robert Freeman, and colleagues have pledged to make the effort to smile at people on Blue Monday.

And they’re calling on others to do the same.

It comes as a specially-commissioned YouGov survey for the Church of England says that nine out of 10 people will be counting their blessings on Blue Monday.

More than half said being thankful for family and partners was their top blessing followed by health.

The Church of England Twitter account, @c_of_e will be asking twitter followers to tweet their blessings today using the hashtag #countyourblessings.

As well as tweeting, clergy and parishioners across the Diocese are also being encouraged to smile at people more today.

The Ven Richard Pratt, Archdeacon of West Cumberland, said: “Happiness comes when we stop living our lives just for ourselves. The importance of family and partners highlights that when we are loved and show love it begins to make a difference to how we live and how we view the world.

“No wonder that the Christian faith places the self-giving love of Jesus at its heart. God can always provide affirmation even when the still important human affirmation lets us down.

”A smile is a simple thing to do. It costs nothing but it can lift spirits and reinforce the Christian message that we’re all loved and should show love and respect to one another.”

The research also shows that the proportion counting their blessings every day increases with age, with one third of those aged 55 and over counting their blessings every day, compared to as few as one in six aged between 18 and 24.

Women tend to feel more tired, depressed and overweight than men in January, the research found, but on the other hand, women are far more likely than men to count their blessings once a week or more often, found the survey.

In a Church of England video also released today, Christian writer and broadcaster Brian Draper, talks about the low ebb of Blue Monday when the Christmas shopping credit card bills roll in and the days are long and gloomy.

Rather than fast-forwarding, Mr Draper asks people how to consider pausing instead, to make the most of this time of year.

He suggests giving a hug or helping hand or performing a random act of kindness to a stranger like paying for coffee or simply smiling as you pass someone.