Today is Blue Monday. The most depressing day of the year in the Northern Hemisphere. According to pretend, made up, pseudoscience. In other words … the Internet!
In 2005, the television station Sky Travel sent out a press release declaring the third Monday in January as the most depressing day of the year. As a travel channel that also sold holidays, I guess they were looking to make people so acutely aware of their depression that they’d clamour to book a weekend jaunt somewhere.
Sky Travel went out of business 5 years later, on what the same pseudoscience named “The happiest day of the year.”, June 24th.
The whole Blue Monday thing was based on some report done by some guy. Actually Cliff Arnall is his name. The equation he developed for determining the most depressing day of the year included information on weather conditions, debt level, time since Christmas, time since failing your New Year’s resolutions, and low motivation levels.
He kind of thought of his research as an upbeat piece of literature. Motivational even! No one else did.
The idea of “Blue Monday” was instantly shared relentlessly on the Internet.
Cliff Arnall actually went so far as to apologize for his research last year saying he didn’t want anyone to focus on being sad or depressed in January. Everyone should be happy! See it as a chance to try new things. Wear funny hats or something.
He’s since taken part in a January campaign called “Screw it, Let’s Do It.” with Virgin Airlines encouraging people to yup … take whirlwind vacations.
Even though I don’t believe this is in fact the most depressing day of the year, or that such a thing exists, (unless you count those days you realize you’ve run out of toilet paper AND paper towels) I can attest to the fact that January really can be kind of icky. And dull and lacklustre and yes, a little bit depressing.
You don’t need a vacation to boost your Blue Monday mood though. I’ve done some research and come up with 10 things you can do TODAY, maybe even right now, to fool yourself into thinking today is as happy a day as … June 24th.
How to Boost Your Mood on Blue Monday
Getting rid of junk and especially making your office or bedroom more organized is scientifically proven to put you in a good mood. Real science. Not Internet science.
2. COMPLIMENT SOMEONE
This is one of those weird things where you’re doing something for someone else but it makes you feel good. Like when you give a really good present. Only this doesn’t cost any money and make the person feel better about their day too.
Go out into the world and compliment a random stranger. If you think their hair is nice tell them, if you think it was admirable they picked garbage up off the street and put it in the trash tell them, if you think they have the loveliest accent you’ve ever heard, say it out loud. Easy, right??
3. PAY FOR SOMEONE’S COFFEE
This is along the same lines as complimenting someone but it involves coffee. And no compliment. If you’re in the drive through or in line for a coffee today pay for a coffee for someone. The person in front of you, behind you, it doesn’t matter. Just maybe try not to get the guy placing an order for his entire office building ’cause a $3.50 favour will enhance your mood, a $35 one might not.
4. BUY YOURSELF FLOWERS OR A PLANT
Researchers at Rutgers University found that:
“simply being in the presence of flowers was found to elevate mood significantly, measurably increase feelings of life satisfaction, and promote positive social behavior.”
In fact flowers are so effective at making some people feel happy that they’re a viable treatment for mild depression, anxiety and stress.
5. GET OUTSIDE IN THE (HOPEFULLY, EVEN JUST A TINY SLIVER OF IT) SUN.
I don’t think I have to explain this one to you. The sun is good for you. It makes you feel betterrrrrrrr. Now if you’re in the Northern Hemisphere you probably won’t be relaxing in a chair watering your vegetable garden but you can get outside to take a walk around your garden. Or even just walk around the block. The point is get outside and if the sun is out even better.
In the fall and winter you can get your Vitamin D from supplements. The recommended dosage is to take 1,000 IU a day during the fall and winter to supplement the loss of sunlight.
There are two ways that exercise makes you feel great. Three if you think you look good in your exercise outfit! Firstly, exercise increases endorphins, those little hormones that give you a high in the same vein as morphine. Secondly, exercise gives you a feeling of ass kicking accomplishment.
7. EAT MOOD BOOSTING FOODS
Like you need an excuse to eat cheese. Ha! -Tryptophan which you probably know as the ingredient in turkey that makes you tired is really making you relaxed. It’s also found in proteins like fish, chicken, cottage cheese, nuts, cheeeeeeese, eggs, and beans.
Walnuts, kiwi, bananas, sour cherries, pineapple, tomatoes, and plums are all naturally high in serotonin which is a hormone (or neurotransmitter – the jury is still out on WHAT it is exactly) that makes you feel good.
So plan on a lunch or dinner that includes these ingredients!
8. MEDITATE OR BOOK A YOGA CLASS
Meditate your blues away. It’s true. It helps. Don’t know how to meditate or think it’s for hippie weirdos? Try taking a yoga class today. Yoga will help your mood too.
9. GET A MASSAGE
The benefits of massage are twofold. Human touch like massage and hugs naturally make you feel good. But even just massaging your own shoulders and neck can make you happy.
Even a fake smile, like my ode to Brooke Shields in grade 6, can fool your brain into thinking you’re actually happy. So even if you don’t feel happy a fake flash of teeth can make it true.
Now that you’ve perused this photo I’m going to assume you’re genuinely smiling. Or laughing hysterically. Either way you’re well on your way to a Happy Monday.
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