The fun and frivolities of the holiday season have faded, purse strings are tightened as pay day seems further away than usual and, as if that wsn’t bad enough, it’s raining.
These are some of the different factors which have resulted in Monday, January 15, being dubbed the most depressing day of the year.
It always falls on the same day of the week – hence the name Blue Monday, coined by Dr Cliff Arnall 13-years-ago – and it is calculated according to specific measurements.
These include the amount of time since Christmas, time since we probably failed New Year’s resolutions, low levels of motivation, weather, level of debt and the current ability to pay it off and the desire to take charge of the situation, which isn’t always possible.
It might sound about right to some, but there is no science behind it.
Blue Monday was a PR invention that has stuck, somehow, and become an annual event.
This year the mental health charity Mind are trying to do away with the event.
Head of information Stephen Buckley said: “Blue Monday contributes to damaging misconceptions about depression and trivialises an illness that can be life threatening.
“One in six people will experience depression during their life. It can be extremely debilitating with common symptoms including inability to sleep, seeing no point in the future, feeling disconnected from other people and experiencing suicidal thoughts.
“There is no credible evidence to suggest that one day in particular can increase the risk of people feeling depressed. There are of course certain things that may make people feel down at this time of year, such as post-Christmas financial strains, broken New Year’s resolutions, bad weather and short daylight hours. However, depression is not just a one day event.”
It has also been reported that the man behind the name, Dr Cliff Arnall, isn’t too happy about it either.
He has spoken out to say he never intended to create such a negative connotation and that January is a great time to start new things and make positive plans for the year ahead.
According to the NHS, regular exercise can boost your mood. “Any type of exercise is useful, as long as it suits you and you do enough of it,” says Dr Alan Cohen, a GP with a special interest in mental health. “Exercise should be something you enjoy; otherwise, it will be hard to find the motivation to do it regularly.”
You don’t have to go running or go to a gruelling exercise class, something fun like a dance class or a brisk walk will suffice.
If you are feeling sad or stressed, a coffee of evening catch up with a friend can help you feel a little better. If nobody is free don’t let this make your mood worse, try to call them instead or arrange something for another day – then you have something to look forward to.
Keep your blood sugar steady by eating little and often to avoid dips in energy, creating dips in your mood but keep the snacks healthy. Avoid foods high in sugar as the energy spike they give is followed by an energy low which, again, can lead to a low mood.
Foods that have been shown to naturally enhance happiness include spinach, sweet potatoes, avocados, eggs, Brazil nuts and bananas.
Get into nature
This has been proven to combat depression, often referred to as ‘ecotherapy’, it reduces social isolation, boosts self-esteem, improves energy and, hand-in-hand with being out-and-about is an improvement to physical health. You could go for a walk on your lunch break or in the evening, if it is too dark and rainy, buy yourself some flowers and bring nature inside.
Learn something new
This could tie into exercise by attending a new class, or it could be something simple like trying a new recipe so dust off your cookbooks. If you’re yearning for a chocolate fix for a little comfort then baking could be a good way to earn yourself a little treat.