If your wintertime blues hit the hardest at the start of the new year, you’re not alone: The post-holiday comedown is certainly real. But does that mean “Blue Monday” is the saddest day of the year? That’s up for debate.
Coined in 2005 by UK travel company Sky Travel, the term Blue Monday typically refers to the third Monday of each January (in 2024, that’s January 15). The company’s findings, shared via press release, concluded that, based on an arbitrary equation utilizing factors like weather, debt, and amount of time since the holidays and resolutions being broken, levels of “happiness” were lowest on the third Monday of the month.
Unsurprisingly, there was backlash. Not only could no two people agree on when Blue Monday actually was—many point to the month’s second and fourth Mondays as worthy contenders for the title (in 2024, that’s January 8 and 22)—but experts assert that the whole thing is basically bogus.
“Blue Monday was a marketing gimmick created by a travel company who asked a psychologist to develop a ‘depression formula’ to find the most depressing day of the year,” Samar McCutcheon, MD, a psychiatrist with The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center, tells Glamour. “However, it is not possible to create a formula for depression that can be generalized to everyone.”
“There is nothing to say that the days that fall before or after are more or less depressing for us all,” Dr. McCutcheon adds. Translation? Actual human feelings can’t be calculated like made-up math problems. And though Blue Monday isn’t necessarily “real,” the sadness you might feel this time of year is.
“What we do know is people may experience more depression during the winter months,” Dr. McCutcheon says. How could we not? As note above, the post-holiday break comedown is impossible to deny…as are all those post-holiday-shopping credit card statements. Plus, major-lifestyle-modifying New Year’s resolutions almost always end in failure, something that allegedly contributes to the Blue Monday phenomenon.
If such is the case for you, try not to dwell. New Year’s resolutions that require complete emotional makeovers simply don’t work. Instead, turn your focus to incorporating smaller, sustainable smart goals into your preexisting routine. Little by little, they start to add up, and you’re bound to start feeling a little better eventually.
Dr. McCutcheon agrees, and encourages prioritizing self-care and well-being in the winter months—regardless of whether or not Blue Monday feels true for you. “My recommendations include practicing good sleep hygiene by having a set bedtime and wakeup time, taking daily walks outside to get natural sunlight, eating healthy foods, avoiding misuse of substances like alcohol, and exercising routinely,” she says.
“It can also be very helpful to maintain positive social relationships to avoid the social isolation that can occur in the winter months,” Dr. McCutcheon points out. Start—or revive—your group chat, and see if anyone’s up for a group walk or communal dinner. Check out your local gym’s class offerings, or try a new and exciting recipe. It’s not too late to hop on the Dry January bandwagon, either, though many actually find that the one-week method works better for them instead.
Finally, it’s important to note that occasional sadness is OK. Intermittent “off’ days during which you want to be alone, and/or lie in bed blasting Lana Del Rey, are perfectly normal, and having, embracing, and expressing those feelings can be healing. Not to mention, sad girls are in.
Read the full article here