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Tips to manage Blue Monday and the winter blues

Blue Monday, Seasonal Affective Disorder or the winter blues--whatever you may be feeling today, there are ways to help brighten your mood.
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Though the pandemic and winter can make a case of the winter blues even worse, experts have tips to help. Photo: Metro Creative Connection

Blue Monday is the name given to a day in January (typically the third Monday of the month--that's today) claimed to be the most depressing day of the year. The concept is said to have come from a travel company, and the theory says we're all cold, broke and riddled with guilt that our New Year's resolutions to get fit, drink less alcohol and be a better human being have fallen by the wayside.

Blue Monday also follows the holiday season when winter blues can be at an all time high, when nights are long and bills are piling up from holiday spending. Although Blue Monday is not scientifically the most blue or depressing day of the year, the day brings awareness to such mental health issues as Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) and depression. 

According to the Canadian Association for Mental Health Association (CMHA), an estimated 15 per cent of Canadians experience the 'winter blues', and another 2-3 per cent experience SAD.
With the pandemic and winter here, we face a new set of challenges to maintain good mental health and well-being.  Experts advise us all to reach out to anyone we know is battling the winter blues. "Send a message to tell someone you’re thinking of them, or do a small act of kindness. Remember: In a world where you can be anything, be kind. You never know the impact you may have on someone else," advises the CMHA.

To get that dopamine pumping in our body, get those smiles going and to feel golden, Theodore (Teddy) Savage, Sr. Manager of Health and Fitness Excellence at Planet Fitness, has some tips that will have you feeling good both mentally and physically:

  • Let's get moving: getting up and moving will help get dopamine, or the “feel good hormone,” running through your body, which will elevate mood. If you need somewhere where to start – try out a United We Move workout. They’re less than 20 minutes that will leave you feeling great!
  • Drink lots of water: we know that you get so busy working that you forget to hydrate, and you may think it is not as important because you are not moving around, but little did you know that drinking water is very important for maintaining good mental and physical health – so drink up.
  • Positive affirmations: Sometimes we all need a pick me up. Leave a nice note at your desk, bathroom mirror, or even on your phone to remind yourself that you are doing GREAT!

See edmonton.cmha.ca for a winter mental health guide to help navigate the cold weather months.