If you’re prone to suffering the winter blues, then Blue Monday (21 January) might be a difficult day. Blue Monday is so called because it’s dubbed the most depressing day of the year. Daylight is short, post-festive bills are piled high with pay day still a week away, and woeful weather only adds to the gloom that can shroud this time of year.
Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) affects as many as one in three adults during the winter months in the UK, with symptoms that include low mood and energy, fatigue, loss of interest in things, and sometimes hopelessness and despair. Summer can feel a long way away, and you can feel the pressure of a long year stretching ahead.
Yet often an antidote to feeling low and sad is to feel you can do something, and to feel you have some sense of agency over your life.
So, with a viewing to shoring up your energy and creating some lightness in your mood on Blue Monday, we offer the following four tips.
1. Remember good times
This depressing time of year can rob you of the ability to remember what it felt like to be in a good mood or feel optimistic about life. Thinking back to times when you have felt happier – by looking at old photos, for example – can lift your mood and remind you that there will be light at the end of this current dark tunnel.
2. Make the day all about you.
So much of life is taken up with anticipating and meeting other people’s needs. Do the same for yourself today. Pick activities that are replenishing rather than depleting. Do something nice and pampering or relaxing. And try not to feel guilty about putting yourself first.
3. Act like it’s spring.
Sometimes just the thought that it’s the most depressing day of the year can make you feel lower than you actually are. What would you do on a spring day that you wouldn’t necessarily do on a winter day? Acting ‘as if’ can be a temporary measure to get you through a difficult moment.
4. Reach out to others.
When you’re low it can be so tempting to keep yourself to yourself, not wanting to bother other people with your thoughts and feelings. But keeping everything in can often make you feel worse and even more isolated. Reach out to a friend and express what you’re feeling. People are often flattered to be asked and to be there for you.
These tips are for people with mild, seasonal symptoms. If the winter blues are setting in, and you’re feeling increasingly low and in despair, you may want to speak to a therapist specialising in depression. You can get in touch with us by emailing [email protected] or calling 020 8673 4545 to make a confidential appointment. We have sessions available seven days a week at our centres in Clapham SW4 and Tooting SW17.