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Blue Monday: 5 Tips to Beat the Blues

The Christmas bills are in, your New Year’s resolutions are bust, and the cold winter days have you feeling stuck in a rut. Welcome to Blue Monday. The day psychologists dubbed the most depressing day of the year.

Although Blue Monday isn’t an official holiday, the term still resonates with how people feel this time of year. The term Blue Monday was developed in 2005 by the company Sky Travel and psychologist Cliff Arnall. Together, they created an equation based on four factors to determine the most depressing day of the year. The result: the third Monday in January.

The four factors that define Blue Monday are weather, debt, motivational levels and the feeling of a need to take action. Choosing what you will do with this day can be a challenge, however, there are two approaches that will give you an idea of how you can properly celebrate this “holiday”.

How will you spend your Blue Monday?

  1. Embracing the Blues: You may choose to treat Blue Monday as an “anti-holiday,” by truly embracing the day and choosing to feel the emotions that go along with it. Choosing to stay home all day and listen to sad music might just be the only thing on your agenda. Ultimately, you are choosing to not fight the meaning of the holiday and embrace the sadness that goes along with it.  
  2. Celebrating the Holiday: By choosing to celebrate Blue Monday, you are actually opposing the meaning of the holiday by doing something that makes you happy. Some people watch funny and light-hearted movies while others spend the day indulging in blue foods such as blueberry pie, yogurt and wine. This way, you are celebrating the fact that your Monday doesn’t have to be filled with sadness and despair despite what we are told.     

If you choose to celebrate the holiday but are lacking creativity, here are a few ideas and tips that will help you beat Blue Monday:

  1. Do something that makes you feel good: On a day like Blue Monday, it’s important to fill your day with activities that lift your spirits. Spending time volunteering in your community will not only make you feel good but will also cost you little to no money. Taking a few hours out of your day to help out a local food bank, animal shelter or any other community organization will allow you to give back without having to open your wallet.
  2. Organize your finances: Two significant factors in the Blue Monday equation are debt and the feeling of a need to take action. The holiday season and even Post-Christmas shopping can have a large impact on your wallet. However, even those who indulge in the spirit of giving are expected to pay their credit card bills when their statements come in this month. If you are feeling motivated to do something about your bills, use today to organize your finances and get on track with your spending. This could include simple things like creating a monthly budget or participating in a no-spend month to recover from excess spending over the holidays.                                                  
  3. Get physical: The Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health found that walking for an hour reduces the risk of major depression by 26%. Going to a local park for an outdoor walk is both free and will provide you with some fresh air and vitamin D that you may be lacking during the winter months. Bundling up and enjoying the fresh air may be just what you need to keep your mind off of the things that are bringing down your mood this season.
  4. Set SMART goals: If you’re feeling down, it’s important to try and push through the low motivation levels and start setting goals. By setting SMART goals, you are ensuring that your goals are specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-bound. An example of a SMART goal could be something as simple as bringing your lunch to work at least four times a week so you can save an extra $50 a month to put towards paying off your debt. By taking the time to set goals that include all five components, you are ultimately increasing your chances of achieving them.   
  5. Reach out for help: If a large amount of debt is the main factor for your Blue Monday and is affecting your mental health, don’t wait to do something about your finances. If this has been something hanging over your head for a while, it’s better to do something about it sooner rather than later. If you are concerned about your financial situation, a free initial consultation with a Grant Thornton debt professional may be just what you need. A friendly conversation over the phone or in-person will provide you with options to make an informed decision about your debt.

Although today is still known as “Blue Monday,” you don’t have to fall into the trap of being blue. By focusing on the things that you can change or embrace about this time of year, you are one step closer to beating Blue Monday and turning the most depressing day of the year into one of the best ones.

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