Blue Monday: Tips to Beat the Blues

Posted on January 21 2019


The third Monday in January is known as "Blue Monday" -- the most depressing day of the year. Funny thing when I was researching this article. Blue Monday was essentially made up by the travel industry intent on selling winter escape trips based on a totally bogus calculation. Good news then, you've already beaten Blue Monday!

However, there is something to be said for dealing with the mid-winter blahs. The holidays are over, but we're still dealing with the bills. The weather is cold (for most of us) and there's limited daylight. And then, Mondays. So it's easy to see why many grabbed on to the idea of Blue Monday and sang its woes.  

For those suffering from depression, Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) or other mental health challenges, it can be an especially trying time. For others, just the mention of Blue Monday can put us in a funk. Rather than let the day bring me down, I decided to use Blue Monday as a way to take inventory of how things are going and to inject a bit more upbeat personality into a cold Monday in January. Here are a few things I have on the agenda today:

Review Daily Living Activities 

Daily Living Activities are those things we do each and every day like eat, sleep, get dressed, etc. and these are the small, but often instrumental, things we can overlook as we're trying to implement other forms of self-care. Blue Monday is a great reminder to check-in with these activities and ask yourself these questions:

  • Am I getting enough sleep?
  • Am I eating healthy? What bad habits am I slipping into?
  • Am I getting enough physical activity in the day?

When I went through this checklist, I realized that I'm often not getting enough sleep when my husband is away, as he isn't there to nudge me to go to bed or, more importantly, isn't there to get up early with the kids, so I started setting an alarm on my phone to ask me at 11:00 pm every evening, "Are you doing anything productive?" If the answer is no, then it acts as a pretty stark reminder that my productivity has peaked and I should go to bed (full disclosure: I'm writing this at midnight, but was able to answer "yes" to that question, so I felt it was warranted to stay up). 

I also noticed that I was getting bad with the nighttime snacking and it had nothing to do with whether or not I was hungry, so I set an intention to limit eating in the evenings and try not to eat after 9:00 pm. There are times where I still might sneak a snack, but the conscious reminder that I told myself not to eat after a certain time often makes me choose healthier foods such as fruit and yogurt versus the regular "go-to" (my Achilles' heel): cookies.

 A few months ago, I lost my Fitbit charger and I didn't think it was a big deal, but I realized how little I was moving and was able to do so in blissful ignorance without the little man reminding to get up and move. Couple that with the cold weather that often has me reaching for the car keys over the running shoes, and I knew it was time to buy a new charger. Seeing the daily steps during the winter is a huge wake-up call to how little we move in the winter months compared to the summer and it now has me doing a lot more conga moves in my kitchen in an attempt to move the dial. At the very least, I'm entertaining the neighbours!

Make it Funday Monday

After taking stock of the daily activities and attempting to implement a few small changes that will hopefully have a big impact overall and help me combat any day of the week in the winter months, I also decided to inject a few elements of fun into what can otherwise be a day those of us dread. 

  • NAMA-SLAY THE WEEK: As a small business owner, I have flexibility in my schedule; however, I often talk myself out of that flexibility and tell myself all the reasons I should continue to work instead of taking advantage of mindfulness yoga classes on Monday mornings. January being a a bit of a slower season in retail, I've run out of excuses and have happily been trotting off to yoga on Monday mornings (and trying to walk there, so Fitbit for the win!).

  • WEAR YOUR BLUES: I almost exclusively wear black and grey in the winter, but why not take this one day that's deemed blue to wear your most colourful blues? Rather than remind me of the most depressing day of the year, injecting blue into the wardrobe reminds me of blue skies, cool water, and the upcoming warmer seasons.
  • ADD A BIT OF D-LIGHT: Yup, it's super depressing getting up when it's dark and getting home when it's dark, but we often find many excuses to avoid going outside when it's cold, even if the sun is shining. Get outside and get the natural Vitamin D! Bundle up and take a brisk walk. The colder the temp, the brisker the walk and the happier your head, heart, and Fitbit will be. 
  • LAUGH: If you're still not feeling it or finding the time to fit in a few of these funday activities, pick up the phone and call an old friend (What?! Actually pick up the phone instead of text? A novel idea, huh?), ask your little one to tell you a story (guaranteed laughs), or find the latest YouTube compilation of other people's kids or pets (in fact, my son woke me up this morning to show me the "funniest video ever" of a ferret falling into a garbage can).
  • HYGGEAWAY: One of my favourite types of getaways is a winter cabin/chalet getaway. There's something about log cabins, fireplaces, and fresh snow on the ground that warm up my insides even if my outsides are frozen. It also gives you a pretty good excuse to make a cup of tea, grab a blanket, cozy up by the fire, and get lost in a new book. Best part: you can do all of this in your own house too. Unlike the summer, you don't feel guilty that you should be outside enjoying the nice weather because the only place you need to be during frigid temperatures is right where you are.

Whatever you plan to do today, it's always a good strategy to flip the narrative of Blue Monday around and ask yourself, "How can I make this a good day?"

Christine LeLacheur

Recovering fast-aholic with a penchant for giving thoughtful gifts and doing good.

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