It’s about this time of year you might hear the term Blue Monday.
Typically the third Monday of January, it has been described as the most depressing day of the year.
In fact, Blue Monday – created by a travel company in the early 2000s – is actually a myth because there is no scientific basis to call a day the most depressing of the year, says Niagara Health Psychiatrist Dr. Amin Muhammad.
While Blue Monday is a myth, the winter blues are all too real for many people.
"Winter can bring a lot of depression,” says Dr. Muhammad, pointing to fewer daylight hours as one of the reasons.
And it can be especially difficult following the holiday season, when there are fewer social gatherings, people spend more time ruminating about the past, the holiday bills start rolling in, and people are more likely to be housebound because of weather conditions.
“These are the things that lead you to have depressive thoughts,” says Dr. Muhammad. “It is a cumulative effect.”
Dr. Muhammad offers these tips to help combat the winter blues:
GET ACTIVE: Embrace the winter and find activities to do outdoors, like hiking.
BE SOCIAL: Many of us make a point of gathering with friends and family during the holiday season, but there may be less of that in January and February. Try to make a point of getting together with others in the weeks following the holidays.
TURN ON THE TUNES: Listen to music you enjoy to boost your spirits.
LAUGH: Do things that make you smile or laugh. Laughter truly is good medicine.
LET THERE BE LIGHT: While there is less daylight in the winter, take advantage of what sunshine we do experience. When you’re inside, try to be exposed to as much natural light as possible. “Happy lamps” can also be effective for people who may not be close to a window during the day.
The winter blues differ from Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), which is a more serious form of depression, and usually requires more intensive help and therapy. In most cases of people who suffer from SAD, symptoms start in the fall, when the days start to shorten, and continue into the winter months.
If you need someone to talk to, Niagara's Mental Health and Addictions Access Line is there for you at 1-866-550-5205.
Photo caption: “Happy lamps” can also be effective for people who may not be close to a window during the day.