Circle Monday, January 16th, 2023 on your calendar, because that’s when Blue Monday is set to spoil any goodwill left over from the holidays.
Even though the day has as much intrinsic meaning as May 4th has to Star Wars fans (“May the fourth be with you”), it doesn’t change the fact that mid-January can be pretty darn depressing. Here’s how you can avoid the post-holiday pitfall of feeling blue this winter.
It’s As Real As You Make It
For the uninitiated, the third Monday of January is dubbed Blue Monday, “the most depressing day of the year”. This is all because of a mathematical formula that incorporates weather conditions, debt levels, broken New Year’s resolutions, and various other factors.
There’s no scientific basis behind Blue Monday – in fact, the term was originally used by a travel company for promotional purposes. 1 Alas, many people see some truth in the idea, given January’s dark days, chilly temperatures, and hefty credit card bills.
It is, undeniably, a tougher time of year to get motivated. So, how can you avoid moping around on Blue Monday?
Reject The Idea
The first step is rejecting the myth of Blue Monday altogether, because it can actually depress you further!
As psychologist Dr. Donna Ferguson said, “It can become a self-fulfilling prophecy. If people feel they have already failed to live up to their resolutions, this self-imposed anxiety, coupled with the belief in Blue Monday, could be the perfect storm for triggering those predisposed to depression.” 2
Even Cliff Arnall, the person who calculated the Blue Monday equation back in 2004, claims he never intended for the day to get such a negative reputation. 3 Once you’ve dispelled any notion that the day is cursed, you can bring new ideas to the table and reclaim Blue Monday.
Adjust Your Resolutions
It doesn’t matter if your New Year’s resolutions are already kaput, or still in draft mode, because Blue Monday is an opportunity to reconsider your goals.
Did you set your expectations too high? “Think about setting yourself a challenge which is achievable,” says mental health professional Stephen Buckley. “This can be much more rewarding than putting on the pressure to complete a massive challenge, which might feel overwhelming.” 4
Remember: the accomplishment of small goals can give you the confidence to seek out bigger goals. So, whether your goal is to get in shape, make some creative waves, or land a dream job, spend Blue Monday recalibrating your resolutions and giving them a second life.
Change Your Environment
Even though the weather might be contributing to your low energy, outdoor time can really break the winter blues. Go for a hike on a local trail, or lace up with some friends and go skating. Natural sunlight renews your vitamin D supply, while crisp air lowers your heart rate and improves digestion. 5
If the snowy season really isn’t your thing, Blue Monday is an opportunity to refresh your living space. Bask your pad in as much natural light as possible, and consider redecorating. You could paint a wall of your bedroom with a striking accent color, or rearrange your feng shui to align with your resolutions. A little change can go a long way.
Check In With Yourself
A great way to upend the myth of Blue Monday is to dedicate this day to your mental health. Take some time to journal your thoughts – it doesn’t have to be eloquent. Simply reflecting on your goals and identifying obstacles to your success will leave you feeling grounded and focused.
Another option is to talk it out. Meet up with a friend for coffee and use Blue Monday as an icebreaker. Even if the conversation winds up nowhere close to the subject of mental health, socializing reduces stress and increases your sense of belonging.
It’s A New Day
Don’t give in to the defeatist attitude of a made-up day. Instead, look at the elements in your life that dictate how you feel – your relationships, exercise regimen, diet, and passions – and make a humble commitment to respect the role they play in your happiness.
If your motivation is in short supply, there’s a range of inspiring websites, blogs, and podcasts available to lift the overcast. Follow them on social media and sign up for their email campaigns to welcome more positivity and joy into the everyday.