In 2005, Dr. Cliff Arnall calculated the most depressing day of the year. In determining this particular date, he figured out that late-January is extremely depressing for the following reasons:
- In the northern hemisphere, weather conditions are usually at their worst (gloomy, unpredictable, and cold)
- Post-Christmas debts are coming due, and our debt is the highest of the year
- We have had time to emotionally consider the time elapsed since Christmas
- We have probably abandoned our New Years resolutions,
- Our general motivation level is low because of the cold and gloom
- We lack something to look forward to in the immediate future (no days off for a while, more cold, etc)
So, for most people this is the “worst day of the year” and probably is “blue.” However, you don’t have to succumb to Blue Monday, and let me explain how to deal with each of these issues related to “Blue Monday.” Also, scroll down for a funny video about how to beat the winter blues in under 30 seconds!
Conquer Blue Monday 2013 Cold and Gloom
Even though things are cold, you can still get outside and get some sun. Bundle up and walk out that door, especially on a sunny day! Buy some thermal wicking clothes so it doesn’t feel so cold!
Since you were young, you have probably heard that you can “catch cold” from going outside in the winter. This nugget of wisdom confirms our body’s initial desire to stay inside where it is warmer. However, the reality is that most winter illness is caused by being inside too much, because it makes the spread of germs from person-to-person much easier. I regularly run and hike on cold days and I always feel better for it. Others report the same experience.
Also, there is always some sun in January. If you can’t get outside, go to a window, close your eyes, and face the direction of the sun. Your field of vision behind your eyes will turn bright red and you will be making serotonin, the brain’s happy chemical. If you can’t get outside, or get some sun at all, some evidence suggests that indoor blue lights can improve your mood.
Avoid Racking Up Debt
Americans often cover for the lack of true happiness in their lives by buying a bunch of cheap plastic crap. If buying something in December causes you to be depressed in January, then don’t buy it. When I moved recently I decided making my moving job easier was more important to me than keeping stuff I haven’t used in five years. I de-cluttered like crazy and the feeling was great. I started to enjoy my lack of dependence on stuff.
As I have worked on my internal attitude, I have found I don’t need a bunch of external stuff to be happy. As you develop the skills to be popular, you will find that being around people, having friends, etc, will be more important to you than relying on material things for your happiness. I am not saying you should become a monk and stop buying things, just that if you are buying more than you can afford, you need to evaluate your priorities immediately.
Find Joys In The Moment; Plan Things To Do
Sure, Christmas has long passed by Blue Monday. But…you can celebrate and have fun every day. Find something fun to do and look forward to, and plan things that give you hope. Every day plan something to do that you like. It can be coffee with a friend, taking a drive to see snowy scenery, going on a hike, driving to a winter festival, or anything. Plan a party if you have to. I suggest getting a calendar and actually writing some of these things down, so you have these “hopeful” things there for you to see anytime you need a reminder of why you are happy this winter.
One Christmas I planned to see an old college friend in February. I looked forward to it all January, and it gave me hope. Another fun thing I planned recently was to take work off early and meet a friend at a local restaurant. We loved hanging out in the afternoon for a change. We were both a little depressed about heading back to work after Christmas, but this meeting made it much more bearable.
Unfortunately, society works us up in a social frenzy near Christmas, and then everything just stops cold. The cool lights, upbeat music, and social gatherings not only disappear, they vanish in a mere day. Then, things get “back to normal,” which, for most people is a very depressing thought. This is why it is important to schedule out things to look forward to. It keeps us hopeful and happy. We also offer specific tips for Post Christmas depression.
Re-Boot That Resolution
I have been a member of various YMCAs for almost 15 years. I have seen people go “gung ho” on January 1st to stop everything by about January 15th. I think something a little more realistic is in order. Instead of going all-out-crazy on January 1st, only to burn out by mid-month, try coming up with something more realistic and sustainable. Also, realize that it is never too late to get back on track. If you have given up on your resolution, then get back with it today. Make a mid-winter resolution. There is no failure, just feedback, if you have the right attitude. Let your early January setbacks help you find a more workable solution starting in mid-January. And, stick with them the whole year!
Overall, my basic message is that “Blue Monday,” the “worst day of the year” is only blue and bad if you allow it. The pitfalls I have mentioned don’t have to be your reality.
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