There’s a semi-official “worst day of the year,” according to at least one expert on the subject. It goes back to 2005, when Dr. Cliff Arnall calculated the most depressing day of the year. The day is aptly called “Blue Monday.”
Based on his calculations (which are listed below), the worst day of this year, our current year’s “Blue Monday,” is January 15th, 2018.
So how did Dr. Arnall calculate that this particular date as being so extremely depressing? His reasons are listed below:
– Post-Christmas debt is due, so for most people, yearly debt is at an all time high
– Enough time has elapsed since Christmas that most people have emotionally processed the season is over. Many of the lights have come down, for instance.
– In the northern hemisphere, weather conditions are at their worst (this year, bitterly cold and gloomy)
– And, our motivation level is low because of this cold and gloom
– By this point, most people have abandoned their New Years resolutions
– We don’t have much to look forward to in the short-term (more cold is ahead, few work holidays etc)
So, for a lot of people, this may actually be the “worst day of the year.”
However, you don’t have to be a victim of Blue Monday. I’ll explain how to deal with the issues related to this infamous holiday, including a video on how to beat the winter blues in under 30 seconds!
Get Outside To Beat Blue Monday 2018 Gloom
Even though it’s cold, try to 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 your childhood, you’ve probably heard from everyone that you “catch a cold” from going outside during winter. This seems logical, but the scientific truth is that while being outside may compromise your immunity to a degree, most winter illness is a result of being inside too much, because it leads to the spread of germs more easily. I run on cold days a lot, and I always feel better for it. Other runners and hikers agree.
Also, there are many sunny days in January. If you can’t go outside, go to a window, close your eyes, and face the direction of the sun. The field of vision behind your eyes will glow bright red. Scientifically, this causes a release of serotonin, the brain’s happy chemical.
If you can’t get light any other way, there is evidence which suggests that indoor blue lights can improve your mood.
In one study, holding the hand of someone close caused a nice relaxation and de-stressing response. Unfortunately, the effect was only present if you had a social connection to that person, and not a stranger.
And, if someone you love isn’t around to hold, then hold a cup of coffee (or tea) instead. In another study, holding a warm drink increased a feeling of social connectivity with others, likely due to an opioid response in the brain.
Finally, while the evidence is mixed, taking regular hot baths seems to make people happier and less depressed. This hyperthermic (heat increasing) effect is likely true of saunas as well, and I admit that in the winter I seem to almost crave sitting in them.
So, after you get outside and get some sun, make sure to cuddle up with that special someone in a bath together (or at least hold a warm cup of coffee).
Avoid Amassing Debt
Many people think buying themselves (and their kids) cheap crap makes them happy, even though, with kids at least, we know the opposite is true. If buying things in December causes you depression in January, then don’t buy them, and keep this attitude up all year long.
Getting rid of things you don’t use (de-cluttering) will make you happier than collecting things you never have time to enjoy.
Work on your internal attitude, and you’ll find that you don’t need a lot of external things to be happy. Virtually every religion and spiritual path teaches simple living free of attachments as the key to happiness.
While I’m not one of those “money causes evil” type of people, ultimately, being around others, having friends, etc, are more meaningful than excessive material things. I’m not saying you need to become a monk, just that if you’re buying more than you can afford, you need to evaluate your priorities.
Find Joy In The Moment And Plan Activities
Sure, Christmas has passed by the time we’re at Blue Monday. But…did you know, you can celebrate and have fun every single day? When I was growing up, my aunt and uncle lived a mile down the road, and I loved seeing them. Yet, for some reason, we only created opportunities to see them on Christmas Eve. It made no sense.
So, find things that are fun to do and look forward to. Plan things that give you joy. Every day (without exception) plan something to do that you like. It could be taking a drive to see some nice snowy scenery, getting coffee with an old friend, going hiking, or attending a concert.
Plan a party. Get some friends together. Importantly, put these on your calendar and write them down, so you have them handy when need a reminder of why you’re happy this winter.
About ten years, I was having a particularly lonely winter, but I made plans to see an old college friend in February. Honestly, I looked forward to it all of January, and it kept me going. Another fun activity I planned recently was to get off work early, and meet a friend at a local restaurant. It was fun meeting in the afternoon instead of our usual evening time. We were both a little depressed about heading back to work right after Christmas, but this meeting made everything more bearable.
Unfortunately, we get socially overwhelmed at Christmas: lights, festive music, and social gatherings. These are great, but they not only vanish, but they do so in a day. Then, things go “back to normal,” which, for most people is depressing. This is why it’s very important to schedule things to look forward to. If you’re interested, we offer specific tips for dealing with Post Christmas depression.
Re-Boot That Resolution
I have been a member of various gyms and YMCAs for nearly twenty years. I’ve seen people go “all out” on January 1st, to stop everything by the middle of the month. More balance is a better idea: instead of going crazy on January 1st, only to burn out two weeks later, focus on something more sustainable.
And remember…it’s never too late to get back on track. If you’ve given up on your resolution, then get back today. Make a “mid-winter resolution.” Make a Chinese New Year resolution. Call it whatever you want, but do it.
I live by the principle that “there is no failure, just feedback,” which means that you don’t ever fail if you learn something from your setbacks and mistakes. Let your early January setbacks help you create new goals starting today.
Overall, the basic message here is that “Blue Monday,” the “worst day of the year” is only blue and horrible if you let it happen. You can make your reality different. Besides, blue is actually my favorite color. Have a happy Blue Monday 2018!
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