“Dear Izzy, It’s Blue Monday, HELP!

It is January and the beginning of a new year, but I am already overwhelmed. I worry that depression will be the theme of this year for me. How can I change that and start the year at my best?”

what is blue monday“It is during our darkest moments that we must focus to see the light.” — Aristotle.

After the Christmas Dinner and New Year’s parties have faded away, anxiety and post-holiday blues can strike hard. If you or someone you know are feeling sad, stressed or generally overwhelmed by life, it can be hard to find a way to keep going.

Dr. Cliff Arnall first conceived the idea of Blue Monday in 2005, and it was published as part of a press release by Sky Travel.[1] It falls on the third Monday of January when our holiday budget is overspent, our savings are at their lowest, and winter brings colder days.

The formula looked at weather conditions, debt level, time since Christmas, time since failing our New Year’s resolutions, low motivational levels and feeling of a need to take action.[2]

First, let’s talk about why it happens:

Even if Blue Monday is still at the theory stage, it can be difficult not to feel anything but blue and overwhelmed on this day, partly due to its widespread association.

In addition, the factors used in Cliff’s Blue Monday calculation are real-life factors – the weather has changed, the festive season is over, and a new year has started with the pressure of performing better than the last year. The new year often makes us think about changes we need to make or challenges we need to overcome. Motivation levels can be low, and we may not know where to start.

However, returning to unhealthy coping strategies, such as self-criticism, overworking or overthinking after the Christmas Dinner and New Year’s parties, have faded away, and anxiety and January blues can strike hard.

Seasonal affective disorder, or SAD, is a type of depression that manifests at specific times of the year.[3] SAD does not, however, occur only during the winter months. It’s not completely clear what all the factors are that cause SAD, but a lack of sunlight is thought to be a major contributing factor. This depression is also thought to run in families: An immediate family member with SAD affects 13-17% of people who develop the disorder.

A study by the American Psychiatric Association found that our exposure to stress and anxiety during the holiday season increases.[4] The study found that, while worrying about our budget, missing loved ones, and fearing overindulgence, we’re also experiencing increased ‘work hours’ due to more social and retail activities. In some cases, this can add to extra hours worked throughout the holiday season for those in industries like healthcare and retail.

So, what can you do to help yourself?

Here are two great tips to help you through Blue Monday and January Blues This Year.

Remember! You can use these tips throughout the rest of the year, too – if you’re feeling down or unmotivated and need a bigger picture, re-focus and work toward being your best friend.

How Blue Monday Can Affect Your Mental Health

TIP ONE:

Plan your days from the viewpoint of a kind friend. Factor in the family tasks, the work tasks, fitness and fun tasks and then ask yourself, would you give this daily plan to your best friend and expect them to complete everything on the list that day?

It’s an effective way to ‘dissociate’ yourself, to take one step back from the goal and look at the bigger picture.

Be compassionate and keep your best friend in mind as you plan your day. They would want you to do the same for you.

Being compassionate in your tasking positively impacts your memory, judgement, and ability to deal with conflict and, for me, gets me out of the house to breathe some sweet fresh air each day.

TIP TWO:

Include in your day some space for flexibility. For example, I have 1 hour daily marked ‘Emails and Tasks.’ That’s when my team knows I will get back to them with anything time-sensitive that crops up. It also gives me breathing space so that if something does crop up, the space in the schedule is there.

I can complete the tasks and get right back to my daily plan.

Learning to prioritize yourself will make you feel less stressed and improve your overall health and quality of life.

You will start seeing the benefits of taking time to relax and de-stress and see an improvement in your mood, brain function, and memory.

Relaxation will allow your mind and body to repair, and making better decisions will become easier and more manageable. It will also help lower the risk of depression, anxiety, hypertension, and heart attacks keep away excess pounds, and boost your immunity.

IT’S TIME TO FULFIL YOUR PURPOSE AND PERFORM AT YOUR PEAK

I have coached Elite Executives, National Leaders, Olympians, Para-Military Leaders and NHL players to remap their automatic thinking habits, overcome stress and perform at their peak. They’ve gone from struggling with stress to achieving the number one spot in their field. My Mental Performance Coaching Clients report better relationships, better sleep, and unprecedented growth for their companies, relationships, and minds.

How about you?

Are you ready to retrain your brain for peak performance coaching?

It’s what I do… powerfully.

If you have more questions, let me know.

Till next time,

Warmest, Izzy.

[1] See: Article for the Mirror by Ariane Sohrabi-Shiraz 17 Jan 2022
[2] See: Article for Sociology in the News by Karl Thompson 21 Jan 2019
[3] See: Cleveland Clinic, Health Library, Disease & Conditions
[4]  See: Morning Consult – Holiday Stress for American Psychiatric Association