People have a fascination with prominent days of the week.
We become prone to superstitious thoughts whenever Friday the 13th rolls around –really, it’s just another day, so why do we react the way we do? We anticipate big sales and discounts on Black Friday. Sports fans get together to eat nachos and enjoy commercials (and sometimes football) on Superbowl Sunday. Even social mediaphiles use #TBT – Throwback Thursday – as a way to re-live nostalgic photos.
The third Monday in January is considered by some to be “Blue Monday”, a date believed to be “the most depressing day of the year”. Cold weather, credit card debt, time lapsed since the festive holidays, and the realization of failed New Year resolutions are just a few reasons people think this is true. Do a Google search and you’ll even see elaborate calculations to help prove the validity of its existence.
And while this is all fun pseudoscience, one has to wonder how much of this has a powerful influence on the psyche, potentially even becoming a self-fulfilling prophecy; the power of suggestion resulting in a sense of low motivation.
As I noted in my previous blog about New Year’s resolutions, this can be stressful for people if they don’t feel they can live up to fulfilling their resolutions. This self-imposed anxiety, coupled with the belief in Blue Monday, could be the perfect storm for depression.
Being able to identify early warning signs and using tools and support is one of the most important ways to prevent problems from becoming worse. It’s important for people to employ positive coping strategies to make sure they aren’t affected. Some examples:
• Stay grounded and focused
Knowing our strengths and accepting our limitations can help us become less critical when things don’t turn out the way we want them to.
• Practice self-care
Good hygiene, proper sleep, relaxation and rest can do wonders for your mental well-being. It’s the start of a new year and we may feel like there’s a lot to accomplish and expectations to live up to, but remember to take a breather and look after yourself in the midst of planning the rest of the year or even taking it one day at a time.
• Take care of your diet
Some may already be watching their diet for aesthetic reasons at this time of year, but a healthy, balanced diet is a huge factor in our mood and mental health. Check out this blog from Christina, a CAMH dietitian, for more tips
Be active and care for your body! Even if it is just a few minutes a day. Not only will you reap the health benefits, but the rush of endorphins will have you feeling great. If you’re not accustomed to exercising, make sure to start small and work your way up. The satisfaction of knowing you’re putting in hard work will help you battle the blues.
• Relaxation, Meditation and Yoga
Conversely, relaxing your body and mind will help you stay focused and calm, and hopefully take your mind off stressful thoughts and situations. Do something you enjoy, and make time for yourself.
If things do become chronic, it is important to seek out help from your family doctor, a counselor, psychologist and/or psychiatrist, or ConnexOntario, distress line and/or a trusted friend or family member.
And above all, while it’s fun to talk about “Blue Monday”, don’t get caught up in the hype..