The holidays are over, and the decorations are stored. It’s back to business and work as usual. Add in a sprinkle of guilt over your abandoned New Year’s resolution, the colder temperatures, and ongoing pandemic stressors, and you’ve got the perfect recipe for a full-fledged case of the winter blues.
Is Blue Monday, a phenomenon of a depressed mood peaking on January 17, creeping up on you?
Is Blue Monday Really A Thing?
Let’s start with the science. Although research hasn’t confirmed that Blue Monday is the most depressing day of the year, there is plenty of research demonstrating that our moods are impacted by seasonal change… or the lack thereof.
People are more likely to report feeling sad during the winter months.
They also experience an increase in feelings of happiness as spring approaches, followed by a dip around late summertime before going back up again through autumn and early winter.
The third Monday of January falls at the end of this period, where people report experiencing a dips in mood. The actual day of the dip can shift, so Blue Monday is very generous in that regard.
SAD Doesn’t Care What Day It Is…
Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is a mood disorder tied to seasons that makes people feel depressed when there is less daylight (and longer nights). It can start in the fall, but typically sees an increase in cases from December to January.
SAD can lead to energy loss, weight gain, and increased appetite. Unfortunately, it often goes undiagnosed because people assume they are just feeling “slowed down” during winter. We write it off as hibernation mode… except we are not bears.
The good news about SAD, though, is it typically gets better as spring rolls around and the days get longer.
How Can You Survive Blue Monday?
If you’re feeling down this January, don’t worry – you’re not alone. There are a few things you can do to help combat your Blue Monday (or Blue January) feelings that will make a huge difference without having to spend any more money!
1. Get enough sleep.
Research has shown that sleep deprivation directly affects mood. Less sleep = less happiness.
Exercise helps lift your mood by increasing your energy levels and endorphin levels in your brain. If you get some sunshine in the winter months, take advantage of it and go for a walk. A little bit of exercise AND some Vitamin D!
3. Eat wisely.
Look, we all tried to live off Peppermint Bark and Cinnamon Rolls for two weeks. And it probably landed us on the couch binging The Witcher. It’s time to ease off the holiday sweets and start giving our brains the healthy foods they need to boost our mood.
4. Soak up the sun.
Being in natural light is crucial for your mental health. So bundle up and get outside despite the cold. Move your Covid-mandated home office desk in front of a window. Give yourself a 10-minute break in the morning to seek some sunshine whenever it shows up.
5. Don’t isolate.
Of course bundled up in a pile of blankets is a tempting place to be when it’s miserable outside. But, again, we are not bears. People need people. Even the most introverted among us needs human connection. So talk to someone – a friend, family member, or therapist.
Don’t Carry Depression With You All Year
Blue Monday isn’t a scientifically-guaranteed event, but it is an important day during a particularly challenging part of the year to check in with yourself and take action to avoid or decrease depression.
Depression is an incredibly common and highly treatable illness,” said Khadejah Abraham, a board-certified licensed marriage and family therapist at bonmente. “More likely than not, we’ll all have depression at some point in our lives, but rather than let it take over and cause unnecessary suffering, we need to make just one phone call. That’s how treatment starts. One call.“
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If you or someone you love is looking for a psychiatrist in Long Beach, CA reach out to bonmente for support. We know that asking for help when it comes to treating depression, anxiety, ADHD, and PTSD is not easy. We also know that finding a provider you trust to help you navigate mental health care can be a challenge. That’s why we’re here, doing things differently. Get support today!