If Black Friday has become synonymous with the start of the festive shopping season, Blue Monday might be the hangover that follows. Typically the third Monday in January, Blue Monday was dreamed up by a PR company to tempt those woeful of winter to travel to sunnier destinations.
Now it’s a thing, backed up by a not-so-scientific formula, suggesting the Monday we just made it through — and indeed, perhaps this entire week — is the biggest downer we’ll endure this year.
The formula goes like this: inclement weather, plus post-Christmas debt and just the right amount of time since the highs of the jolly season have turned to doldrums’ lows.
Add to that, the time it typically takes to break our New Year’s resolutions, declining motivational levels and the need to take action. All these factors swirl around like the perfect snowstorm, blurring our vision for a happier New Year.
I asked Dr. Kathy Keating, a registered psychologist in Kelowna what she thought of Blue Monday and if she noted any changes in patients’ complaints this time of year. “People do report more blue moods and symptoms of depression during the fall and winter, particularly January and February, though it’s comparable to November,” she said.
Agreeing the financial repercussions of Christmas spending sprees and resolutions gone by the wayside can make people feel bummed out, she insisted there’s no scientific evidence Blue Monday is the worst day of the year, or that this entire week is particularly bad, for that matter. What she does find positive about the marketing of Blue Monday is that it gets people talking about their moods. “Businesses have done things to lift peoples’ spirits and people are talking about mental health and that’s a good aspect of this.”
Of course, it’s important to recognize the difference between a blue-funker and true depression.
“People can say they’re blue, it’s a real feeling,” Keating explained, “but don’t equate it with depression. There are big differences, specifically the severity of the feeling and the length of time it’s experienced.”
While the blues come and go, depression hangs on. People don’t just snap out of it. If your mood has been adversely affected for two or more weeks and it has interfered with your job and relationships and you’re not experiencing any joy in any parts of your life, you should consult your physician or a mental-health care professional.
If, on the other hand, you struggle to get out of bed to face another manic Monday but by mid week your mood picks up and you get a little excited as Friday fun day whispers from your desk calendar, “Hang on! I’m only two days away,” you’re probably experiencing the winter blues, which like the season, are happily short-lived.
It may sound counterintuitive, but if winter is stealing your sunshine, Dr. Keating suggests embracing the season — or at least something unique about it. “Pinpoint something that only occurs in the season and capitalize on it. Is it hockey? Canadians love hockey! Get out of your house after dark and go to a game. The Olympics are coming up. If you love them, plan a social event somewhere to watch them. “I’m a huge curling geek and when November comes around, I’m into it. Sometimes I have to force my husband to watch it with me, but it’s something I look forward to.” With the Scotties Tournament of Hearts being held in Penticton at the end of the month, you might discover a new reason to love winter.
Even if you don’t ski, a trip up to Big White and a stroll through the village, could find you busting through the clouds, beguiled by blue skies. It might take more effort than in the summer, but find interesting activities to engage in. Bundle up and head outside for some fresh air and focus on the positive — spring is only two months away.