Yeah, we all know and love that drum intro to New Order’s 12” monster Blue Monday but this is a different type of Blue Monday we’re talking about today.
You see for the last ten or so years the term Blue Monday has become synonymous with one thing – depression and the supposedly the most depressing day of the year.
In 2005 a travel company recruited a psychologist with a long drawn out mathematical formula to give some credence to their claim that they had identified the most depressing day of the year, the third Monday of January. Basically we’re all feeling fat after a carb overload in December (and probably feeling guilty at not actually going to the gym since getting that new membership two weeks ago!), we’re skint from Christmas, it’s cold, windy, raining and boy is it dark…ALL the time! So this travel company figured out that marketing this day as one where we’re at our lowest would be a great day to sell holidays. A sort of ‘you feel rubbish, book something to look forward to’ kind of logic I guess. And do you know what, we all fell for it! Hook, line and sinker! An actual day where it’s more depressing than any other? Give over!
The reason I’m pouring scorn on the concept of Blue Monday isn’t because I don’t care about depression, far from it. It’s because I refuse to believe that people can only feel at their lowest ebb on a particular day of the year. Depression doesn’t run to a calendar. It’s a 24 hours a day/365 days a year affliction and shoe-horning it into a single day is a bit disrespectful if you ask me.
So we’ve established that I don’t believe in Blue Monday then, what I don’t want to do is dismiss clinical depression, nor indeed Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) – there is sufficient scientific evidence that a lack of daylight hours can have an impact on the brain, although it affects everyone completely differently. What I want to do in this blog is give some ideas as to what we can all do to beat those ‘Winter Blues’ and how we can all spot the signs of depression in others.
Ways of Staying Positive
Above I listed the reasons why people will be feeling down, hopefully these tips for staying positive and staying positive (courtesy of NHS Choices) will help lift the mood:
1) Be Sociable and Talk. Yeah I know it’s dark, wet and cold outside but that doesn’t mean you have to stay locked behind doors speaking to no-one but the cat. That isn’t going to help anybody. If you’re at a low point the worst thing you can do is deal with it alone. Friends, Family and Colleagues are all great soundboards for whatever you’re going through. Remember, a problem shared is a problem halved.
2) Exercise. Look at yourself in the mirror post-Christmas and feel a bit of shame? Regretting the fifth tin of Quality Street you opened before the Queen had even finished her speech? We’ve all been there and I’ll bet that the majority of us feel that way every year! It’s Christmas, you’re meant to overindulge, just don’t let that bring you down for the rest of the year. Exercise will help remove that Christmas excess but it also releases chemicals in the brain that help with self-esteem.
Other benefits of exercise are:
I’m not talking undertaking Iron-Man triathlons, spending money on a gym membership or investing in hundreds of pounds on the latest fad equipment, just get out there and walk/run/cycle. That old bike that’s not moved from the shed for 4 years, pump those tyres up and go for a ride. Dig those trainers out and go for a run, don’t want to run alone? Weekly 5k runs are held every Saturday local to you. Don’t worry how fast you are or how many times you have to stop for a breather, I guarantee you’ll find someone there in the exact same boat as you.
NHS Guidance says adults should exercise at a moderate level for approx. 30 minutes a day. That’s not a lot of your day, in fact it’s just over two-percent! Two percent for something that will make your feel better for the rest of the day.
3) Ditch the Booze
Dry January has become quite popular in recent years where participants go without alcohol for the month and raise sponsorship as part of the process. A bit like Movember but without looking daft! The concept is a bit of fun but it has quite a serious underlying reason for it. Too much alcohol genuinely isn’t good for you, sorry! This is especially the case if you’re drinking to hide from problems or to cope with them. Point 1 is a much better way of dealing with problems. No-one ever found the solution to anything at the bottom of an empty bottle.
4) Seek Advice
Money problems are a major factor in people suffering with depression and one that people seek advice about the least.
Financial management is an area where experts can give you genuine advice to get you back on track. As with the booze problem, hiding from it won’t make it go away. Citizens Advice is a great place for advice and guidance.
In summary; don’t hide away, don’t bottle anything up, be healthy and keep your eye on the booze.
Of course this is a really quick touching on the subject and I’m not an expert, far from it. But I cannot stress this enough, if you’re feeling low TALK TO SOMEONE, please!
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