4 Antidotes for Blue Monday
Welcome to Blue Monday, supposedly the cruelest day of the year because we’re at the nasty intersection of crummy weather, post Holiday debt, and by now we’ve failed at keeping our New Year’s resolutions.
I would add to that I’m sure many of us are a little plump after the holiday, so I guess this day marks the zenith of our worst selves.
So is this is this a real thing? Yes and no. A PR agency coined the term back in 2005 as part of a campaign to stimulate winter vacations for a travel company. There was an attempt at giving this some academic street cred, but the scientific community largely sees this as pseudoscience at best.
But the winter blahs aren’t all hocus pocus. I found an interesting article on Q that breaks down the science behind why many of us struggle with the winter doldrums.
Basically it says that as a species, humans evolved near the equator, which means we’re biologically programmed to love sunshine and physically need an equal balance of daylight and nighttime. Enter circadian rhythms, our internal clock that’s governed by the interplay of the moon, sunlight and darkness. Our circadian rhythms are responsible for balancing the hormones and neurotransmitters that influences our mood, metabolism, appetite, ability to focus and sleep.
As we migrated into areas with varying seasonal daylight (uh, like New York), keeping our circadian rhythm in harmony became more difficult, especially between December and the end of February. Compounding this are two substances that dip when there’s limited sunlight; serotonin and BDNF (brain derived neurotrophic factor). Low levels of both are linked to depression, inability to focus, lower cognitive function and memory loss, which is why we fall off the resolution wagon all too quickly in January.
So you slipped and ate that piece of chocolate, eh? It’s not your fault, it’s just the Circadian Conundrum and it can only get better from here.
But we’re not entirely helpless against Blue Monday either. There are four super easy things you can do to lift your mood that don’t require chocolate, Prozac or a tropical vacation
1. Exercise. We all know sitting can kill us, right? You don’t have to bang it at the gym for 60 minutes of V.I.P.E.R. training. Just 30 minutes of a brisk walk will check this box.
2. Get some fresh air. Take that walk outside. Two birds, one stone.
3. Give out Compliment Candy. Force yourself to shell out five random but authentic compliments to either complete strangers or people you know but aren’t overly familiar with. I know it can feel awkward, but the joy you’ll create for that other person (even if they act aloof), will sail them thru to the weekend, trust me. Try a few like this:
- To the random stranger on the subway: “I just wanted to tell you that shade of green looks amazing on you. I wish I could pull that off” or “Can I ask where you got those shoes? They’re fantastic”.
- To the barista who makes your coffee everyday :“You know, you and your coffee always makes me day start off great. You just get me and my need for extra foam”
- To your co-worker :“You’ve got a real talent for making others feel comfortable, I wish I had some of your magic”
- To the person standing to close to you in line: “Your breath smells like lilacs”. (Kidding)
4. Laugh. Go ahead, indulge in a few cat videos. Better yet, enjoy the sublime ridiculousness of this book, How to Say Yes to Life” found by Mary Kelly over at awfullibrarybooks.com. It’s a guide for women who over 40 and still alive. Here’s a sample.
Do you find yourself getting the winter blahs or do you dig winter?
Resources and Related Articles
- Blue Monday: a Depressing Day of Psuedoscience and Humiliation (The Guardian)
- Forget About Blue Monday, Depression is All in the Mind (Huffington Post)
- Ladies You Can Beat the Blahs (awfullibrarybooks.com)
- Blue Monday (Wikipedia)
- F Blue Monday (Equinox)