Ever heard of “Blue Monday”? I had not...until recently. According to Wikipedia, it is a term developed by a travel company in 2005 to identify the most depressing day of the year for countries in the North Hemisphere. “Blue Monday” is believed to be the 3rd Monday of January. Guess what?
That date is coming up quickly. Monday, January 16th is “Blue Monday” this year. Which led me to spend some time thinking about the concept and whether I believed the concept had any validity…….
For several years, SAD or Seasonal Affective Disorder, seemed to be the “buzz”. Commonly referred to “winter blues”, SAD was used by clinicians to diagnose mood difficulties which had a seasonal cycle to them. For example, someone who suffers from depressive symptoms only in the winter and has “normal” mental health during the summer months. With the development of the DSM 5, SAD was changed from a diagnosis to a specifier for a mood disorder.
Regardless of how you identify it, does it really exist? Do we as humans suffer from “winter blues” or experience a “Blue Monday”? And, if so, how do we combat it?
For me, it is not about whether the concepts have validity, have a name or not….it is more important to identify how we feel and how we can cope with the feelings.
I personally find winter months to be “depressing”……I find it hard to motivate myself and have the desire to go to bed at an earlier hour due to the lack of daylight. (As I am writing this, it has been raining for 2 days and I think I have forgotten what the sun looks and feels like!) I think many of you share these feelings…..
So, what do we do to combat the “winter blues”? Since moving to a sunnier, warmer place is not a valid option for me (and most of you), here are some quick tips to try:
Make your environment brighter. Be sure to open up your blinds. Sit close to a window. Soak up the sun on a sunny day. You may also benefit from a light box if your symptoms are severe
Get active. Bundle up and get some fresh air. Take a walk around the block. If you can’t make it outside, try some indoor exercise. Getting your blood pumping and your body moving improves your mental outlook.
Eat Smart. Certain moods provide quick fixes as does alcohol and drugs, however they may actually increase anxiety and depression.
Volunteer. Helping others improves mood and your own life satisfaction. Having something to do also provides motivation for getting out of the house.
Listen to some upbeat music. Individual tastes in music differ but blast some toe tapping, dancing music. Dance around the house, stream your favorite station at work or sing your favorite tunes as you drive to work.
Plan a vacation. Having something to look forward to and to occupy your mind is helpful. Maybe the beach is calling your name, also!
I know what you are thinking……”Six things, really?” “Can these really help?”. My challenge to you is to try one thing each week. If you don’t try something new, how will you know?
Additionally, if you find your depression to be severe in which it is affecting your daily life (missing work or other obligations, thoughts of suicide, changes in weight, loss of interest in activities) for over 2 weeks, seek treatment from your family physician, psychiatrist or a therapist. For those 11 million people who suffer from the seasonal form of depression, it is REAL and know you aren’t alone!
So, back to my challenge…..who is with me? Who is going to combat “Blue Monday” with one of the above tips? On Monday, I will be volunteering my time (despite my desire to stay in bed all day). I am looking forward to hearing what you will be doing!
Have an awesome weekend,