Authored by: Kent Larson, Licensed Clinical Social Worker
Is Blue Monday the saddest day of the year? The third Monday of January is said to be the most depressing day of the year as supposedly it is the gloomiest day of the year as people come down from holiday-highs and look towards the distant light of summer.
However, Isabella Goldie, Director of Development and Delivery at the London-based Mental Health Foundation, stated that “Blue Monday isn’t a real thing.” She further stated that “Blue Monday” is a formulation of challenges faced in January such as the weather conditions, time since Christmas, debt levels, and New Year’s resolutions already not met. Goldie further states Blue Monday was invented to sell summer events and outings and has emerged into a yearly PR event and is a method to promote and sell things that are linked to improving one’s well-being.
I personally, have experienced a let-down after Christmas and New Year’s. However, it is right after New Year’s Day and blue days happen to me more when we have short daylight or inversions. Besides the things mentioned above, that are listed in the reasoning above behind “Blue Monday, there are conditions that exist that cause people to experience some sadness, depression, or discouragement. This would be our Wasatch Front temperature inversions that tend to be likely from November 15, through February 15,. They block the son of or short winder days and make the air dirty.
It is my belief and experience that people, after New Year’s Day, are more likely to be cooped up in their homes and get cabin fever. There seems to do fewer activities available, and the presence of long winter dark nights and the shorter times of sunshine during the day. Our Wasatch Front inversions block the sun completely for days on end, depending on the amount of storms that come through to clear the inversion out.
Though these conditions exist well before New Year’s Day along the Wasatch Front, the first part of the winter includes Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Day. People generally stay quite busy and focused on the holidays, experience the family gatherings, and traditions, and the activities surrounding those holidays. Until the creation of Martin Luther-King Day (or Civil Rights Day) there was nothing in January. To me it just seemed like a long boring month. Civil Rights Day was first celebrated as a Federal Holiday in 1986, ironically on “Blue Monday,” the third Monday of January. For that reason, I was pleased with the timing of the Civil Rights Day as it breaks up the month of January and can be a distraction from the holiday blues. This is not to mention my deep Respect for what Dr. Martin Luther King accomplished.
I believe people are more vulnerable, during the months of January and February, to experience moments of sadness, loneliness, boredom, and discouragement. However they would not qualify for the diagnoses of mood disorder, depression, or seasonal affective disorder. Those diagnoses must have several symptoms that have gone on for a certain time.
What can be done to cope with dreariness and the blue days that often occur in January and February?
1) Keep busy doing things that are enjoyable and that one is able to do during the month of January. Participate in winder sports, attend athletic events that are in season, pursue one’s hobbies that are doable in January. I often work on home projects that I never have time to work on during the summer months when the responsibility of a yard pulls me outside. Cardiovascular exercise helps released the endorphins that improve mood.
2) Find the sun as often as possible. Park City is not far away even for a day visit. It has several shopping opportunities as well as winder activities.
3) Use a Yellow light designated for improving mood.
4) Do cardiovascular exercise-this includes walking, running (sometimes in a treadmill or an indoor facility or track), swimming, stationary biking, etc.
5) Plan social events and activities with family and friends. These don’t have to stop just because the holidays are over. Most people love to watch movies together, play board games or cards, watch sports on television, eat good food, and enjoy being together.
6) Get involved in hobbies that interest you. My hobbies of playing musical instruments, singing, and arranging music can easily be done during the month of January. My hobbies of hiking or hiking can’t be done as easily, unless I have snowshoes, cross-country skis, or a bike with snow tires on it. Whether one’s hobby is woodworking, doing crafts, cooking, or eating good food, many hobbies can be done during the cold months. If you like to play golf, you are out of luck unless you plan on going to St. George or Las Vegas.
Instead of lamenting the things one can’t do during the winter, it is important to enjoy those that can be done and focus on them, as there is many possibilities. Enjoy what there is to enjoy to the fullest in January, and with any luck, we will have a snow day. I have always loved those. Have a great winder everyone. Spring is just around the corner.