Blue Monday - what is it, and what can we do about it?

Updated: Jan 22

Blue Monday usually falls on the third Monday of every New Year, and is considered the most “depressing” day on the calendar. But where does this come from?


Oddly enough – it came from a UK Travel Agency trying to convince people that they need to book a trip somewhere warm to cheer up! Who can really argue that logic? :)


They claimed that Blue Monday was reached by “taking into account various factors” such as average temperature, days since the last pay day, days until the next bank holiday, average hours of daylight, and the number of nights in during the month.


Over 15 years later, despite its pseudo scientific origins, Blue Monday still trends on social media every year. Here in Canada, our days are short, the weather is cold, we have no statutory holidays nearby….it is definitely easy to feel “blue” mid-January.


So what can we do about it??


GOOD QUALITY SLEEP (8-9 hrs):

  • Have good routines (get to bed early, dark/cool sleep space, no phone or TV in bedroom).

  • Get morning sunlight! Morning sun affects your circadian rhythm by increasing body temperature, through the morning production of cortisol, and by increasing serotonin levels, which are important to sleep (& mood). Get 30-40 mins of sunlight (direct light, not through glass) within an hour of waking up each day.

DIET

  • Avoid processed foods (makes your feel heavy and low mood)

  • Avoid high amounts of simple carbs (makes your blood sugar levels and MOOD go up and down like a Teeter-Totter….which you do not need right now)

  • Incorporate foods that increase your serotonin levels (serotonin is a hormone that acts as a mood stabilizer). Some examples are: eggs, turkey, nuts/seeds, cheese, pineapples, tofu, and salmon. Your best chance at achieving a serotonin boost is to eat them often, with a serving of healthy complex carbohydrates, like: brown rice, oatmeal, and whole grain bread.

MOVEMENT


The key is to have “regular” movement (which has been shown to have high anti-depressant benefits). This can be a walk (get your morning sun!), ensuring you get up from your desk every 30 minutes, and some yoga. Pairing it with a friend/family member makes it even better, as socializing also has high anti-depressant effects.


GUT HEALTH


90% of your serotonin is made in your gut. So keep your gut healthy by having a high fiber diet, and consider taking a good quality probiotic supplement.