Blue Monday: How to cope with the most depressing day of the year

By Kailie Annetts and Meredith Bond

The third Monday in January has been dubbed “Blue Monday,” as it’s rumoured to be the most depressing day of the year.

While there’s no concrete evidence of this title, Canadians usually feel a slump with the onset of winter, less exposure to sunlight, and holiday celebrations finished.

“January, reportedly, is a time of sadness and depression due to post-holiday feelings … if we’ve overspent on our holidays, the bills are now showing up. We’ve got the cold weather, it’s dreary, it’s cold, it can be wet sometimes, there is less sunlight. And, if you’ve made New Year’s resolutions, they’ve all kind of fallen by the wayside at this time of year,” explained Debbie Opoku, a registered psychotherapist.

Opoku tells CityNews experts say all these factors combined usually lead to a lower sense of mood and feelings of sadness.

For those who are struggling with this time of year, Opoku recommends doing a mental health check on yourself daily.

“You want to be able to notice when things are starting to decline. Like your sleep, your appetite, your mood, your thoughts, your behaviour. Pay attention to all of these things, notice how they all connect, and rate them, for example, on a scale of one to 10.”

If you start to notice those numbers decline, Opoku said you should reach out to your family doctor or seek out some mental help support.

She also suggested a few ways to combat those lower moods, including meditation, exercise, and putting together a schedule.

“Be kind to yourself, it’s a tough time of year and I really want to be able to normalize that for everyone, to really understand that you’re not alone in this. But be very kind to yourself and know that you’re going to get through this. Talk about your emotions, check in with loved ones, talk to people!”

Despite great strides in the stigma surrounding people struggling with mental health issues, Opoku said we can go even further — just by talking about it more.

“Let’s talk about it in our workplaces, let’s talk about it in our communities, let’s talk about it at our dinner tables … Just being that support for one another because, at this time of year, we are all struggling,” Opoku said.

Opoku also reminds people they should check in on their loved ones this time of year.

“The thing is that the Winter Blues affect people differently and some people may not be phased by it and some people their quality of life is significantly more prone to this time of year,” shared Opoku. “Really check in on each other, really support one another, and really understand that you’re not alone in all of this and we really need to support each other this time of year.”



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