The Most Depressing Day Of The Year

Has your mood taken an unexpected dive lately? If so, there might be  a very good reason. January 19th was Blue Monday. It is usually the third Monday of January. For my own purposes, I always refer to January 21st as the most depressing day of the year as it is easier for me to remember and it can go either way by a few days.

There are different factors that go into the date being calculated. Cliff Arnall originally came up with the theory and the formula for calculating the day but it basically comes down to the following:

  • Weather conditions.
  • Debt level (the difference between debt accumulated over the holidays and your ability to pay).
  • The time that has past since Christmas.
  • Realization that  you are have failed or are failing at your New Year’s resolutions.
  • Low motivational levels and feeling of a need to take action.

The weather plays a big part. Available sunlight is minimal and it is not until later in January that the days start getting longer (or seem to at least) and the usual bitter cold of winter starts to abate some.

If you spent too much money over the holidays this might also the time that you will start to feel the pinch. After the instant gratification of buying gifts, spending money for parties, and holiday travel, many budgets are stretched. Once the reality sits in after the excitement of the holidays, that credit card bill can be daunting to some.

In addition, by now, most New Year’s resolutions are long gone and forgotten. The first of the year rush to the gym is over by now. The new members and people who were inspired by the new year to finally get in shape have all retreated back to their couches and television sets. Of course, the guilt of not following through with resolutions might be weighing (no pun intended) heavily on you as well.

The saddest or most depressing day of the year just comes down to timing. It comes three weeks after the holidays are over and being back in reality for three weeks can be a challenge. Depending on which latitude to you live at there are also several more weeks of harsh winter and short days ahead. Your spring or summer vacation is too far out to even think about right now.

There is skepticism about the day and the theory but I for one am a believer.

So how do you get rid of the winter blahs if that is what you are going through? Here are some hints to help if you are suffering and feeling the effects from the most depressing day of the year:

  1. Get some extra sleep if you need it. If you are feeling blah, try to get some extra sleep at night to help energize you during the daytime.
  2. Get some sunlight! If you can, try to exercise or walk an hour each day during the mid-day sun. The sunlight will do wonders for elevating your mood and outlook on life.
  3. Get moving! If you can’t exercise outside due to snow, ice, or cold temperatures, get to the gym. Utilizing large muscle groups releases chemicals into the body that will alleviate the feelings of being down.
  4. Reset your goals. Instead of feeling bad about your failed resolutions set some SMART (specific, measurable, action-based, realistic, time-bound) goals for yourself to get back on track. Focus on little wins instead of huge victories.
  5. Start planning ahead. It might be too soon to be looking forward to your vacation months out but planning now can give you a sense of something to look forward to down the road. The closer you get to your trip the more excited you will become.

Winter can be a challenging time emotionally. As humans, we are biologically designed to draw-inward and hibernate in a way during the coldest and darkest months. Follow the steps above to help get rid of the winter blues if you have them. Hang in there; longer days, sunshine and warmth are just around the corner.

Do you believe in Blue Monday? What do you do to ward off the winter blues?

Andy Wooten M.A. Counseling – Certified Life Coach – Aspen, Colorado

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