The third Monday in January seems a little arbitrary when you're looking for a date that really represents the deepest low point of the average person's winter mood.
It's almost a month on from the shortest day of the year, and while January might be one of the cooler months, the third Monday isn't statistically more likely to be the chilliest day.
Part of the oddly specific timing might be the fact the phrase may have been coined as recently as 2005. According to the Winnipeg Free Press, it was born as a collaboration between a PR firm and travel agency. The Toronto Star adds they approached a former professor at Cardiff University in the U.K., Cliff Arnall, to come up with a semi-scientific basis for it.
From the Star:
"Arnall used a pseudo-mathematical formula to pinpoint the most depressing day of the year: he combined weather, debt, time since Christmas, motivation levels, the need to take action, and time since New Year’s resolutions were made."
The idea has been debunked by several sources (including Snopes), but some scientists aren't too harsh with the concept. Adam Milne of the Mood Disorders Association of Manitoba told the Free Press that time of the year is where a lot of real factors do start to weigh heavily on people.
"In Winnipeg and the northern parts of North America, we have long winters, and January is very difficult," Milne told the Press. "It’s freezing, it’s dark when you get up, it’s dark when you get home, and these things affect people. Another reality is there is a big letdown after the big emotional high after the holidays for a lot of people."
Scientific or no, winter blues are a real thing, and if you feel them nipping at your heels this Monday, or any time for the remainder of this winter, here are five ways to keep them at bay.
1) PERFORM A RANDOM ACT OF KINDNESS
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Shovel your neighbour's driveway before leaving for work. Make coffee for the office, and bring some donuts too. Heck, just be nice to a stranger.
Just do something, anything, nice for someone else. The beneficiary, in the end, will be you. Most people are hard-wired to feel good about themselves when after they've made someone else feel good -- just the thing for when you're having a Blue Monday.
2) PAMPER YOURSELF
Of course, while you're making someone's day, don't forget about yourself!
The darkest depth of winter is the ideal time for a self-indulgent pick-me-up, and it can be large or it can be small. Splurge on tickets to a show you've always wanted to see. Get some really nice wine and curl up with your favourite book. Hit a spa. Whatever it is, if it's out of the ordinary and you're wanted to do it for awhile, now's the time to do it.
3) GO TO BED EARLY
Your mileage may vary on whether or not humans are actually supposed to hibernate in winter, but the benefits of sleep are universally accepted.
Men's Fitness magazine says your sleep patterns are already in a knot due to the effects of winter, such as less light and lack of regular exercise. While making sure to wind down before bed first, an earlier bed time will not only bring Blue Monday to an end faster, the extra sleep you'll get will give you the energy to bounce back into a healthier pattern the next day.
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4) WATCH A FUNNY FILM
There's the obvious benefit to this one: The more you laugh, the lighter you'll feel, and the less bleak the season will seem.
We'd add the following: It needn't even be a funny film. Any entertaining movie, like your tried-and-true favourite action film or classic romance, will do, so long as it gets your spirits up. Take the night off, get a heavy blanket, and enjoy!
5) BOOK A HOLIDAY
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One of the worst parts of the Blue Monday is its miserable location, right in the depths of January. Why book a holiday now? Simple: Mulling your next trip will give you something to look forward to.
You needn't necessarily GO on that vacation just then. Just spending time planning your jaunt to whatever paradise means to you will be enough.
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