Every year there is a heavy debate over whether Blue Monday is anything more than pseudo-science. The term first appeared in a marketing campaign nearly two decades ago in 2005, coined by psychologist Dr. Cliff Arnall on behalf of Sky Travel, a holiday company in the U.K.
Arnall’s equation uses several factors, including but not limited to the time since Christmas, weather conditions, standing debt, and low motivation levels. The calculation found the third Monday in January to be the most depressing day of the year.
He has since gone on the record to say the equation is meaningless. However, it does hold value regarding mental health, experts say.
The highly criticized PR gimmick continues to highlight a tough time of year for many people. January can be challenging when the days feel short, the anticipation of the holidays wears off, and credit card bills start arriving. With the added pressure of the COVID-19 pandemic, this year may feel incredibly overwhelming.
What can you do if you’re feeling blue?
The Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) suggests making simple but effective changes to improve your mental health during the winter months.
In the CAMH Blue Monday Survival Guide, clinical psychologist Dr. Katy Kamkar encourages people to set achievable goals, including getting proper sleep, being physically active and setting a budget.
Get proper sleep
The Public Health Agency of Canada recommends getting seven to nine hours of sleep each night and practicing good sleep hygiene.
The organization offers the following tips:
- Avoid alcohol, caffeine, or nicotine before going to bed
- Set a routine bedtime and waketime
- Reduce noise
- Practice relaxation techniques
- Exercise regularly
- Review medications with your doctor or pharmacist
Be physically active
The Canadian 24-Hour Movement Guidelines suggest adults aged 18-64 should do at least 150 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activities each week. That is only 2.5 hours. The guidelines also advise muscle strengthening and light activities, including standing.
Physical activity can give you energy, decrease stress, and prevent chronic diseases.
Set a budget
The new year is a perfect time to reevaluate personal finances, especially if you forgot to budget or plan before the holidays.
According to a recent survey by Equifax Canada, 33% of respondents say that it takes a month or more to catch up on paying for holiday purchases, and 19% regret holiday purchases when they receive their credit card bill.
Related read: How Much Debt Does the Average Canadian Have? (Plus 6 Tips to Help You Get Out of It)
Once you shake off your statement shock, it can help to identify the amount you owe and formulate a plan to pay off your credit card balance. It is important to pay at least the minimum amount due on your statement; however, the more you are able to pay, the more interest charges you will avoid.
Reduce the impact of Blue Monday
Here are a few things you can do to make the day a bit brighter:
- Self-care: Focus on your well-being and take a moment for yourself.
- Check on family and friends: Connect with your loved ones and build your support network.
- Be proactive: Make a list of your achievable goals.
Blue Monday will be over in a flash! Did you know that the winter solstice (December 21) is the shortest day of the year? That means it’s only longer and lighter days from here.
According to the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA), 39% of Canadians say their mental health has declined due to the COVID-19 pandemic. If you are struggling with mental health, you are not alone.
Visit the Canadian Association for Suicide Prevention, Crisis Services Canada, Kids Help Phone and Bell Let’s Talk for more resources and a directory of support services.