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Blue Monday is upon us – supposedly the most depressing day of the year. But where did this idea come from? Is there any truth behind it? How can we feel better about the dark, cold days? Our Clinic Director Phil shares his thoughts.

In 2005, a PR company introduced the idea of “Blue Monday”, the most depressing day of the year. It seems to have caught on as a vague concept – indeed, I am bringing it up now, so clearly it has stuck in public consciousness. Well done to that PR company!  The date is towards the end of January, and it has to be a Monday, the most depressing day of the week for many, I guess. This year it falls on the 20th. Still a whole week from the end of January, widely considered to be the most depressing month…

My whole being rebels against this sort of misery talk. I have experienced down in the dumps moments, and I know only too well that focussing on the negative aspects of everything does not help one little bit. I believe that thought itself is powerful, and we need to be aware of the thoughts we choose to foster, as these decide our moods and our experiences of the world at large.

In any given situation, we humans can choose our focus. OK, so it is raining; whether that is a bad thing or not is a matter of perspective.

Crops need water, reservoirs need filling – I am happy.

Dog needs walking, I need sunbathing – I am unhappy.

Yet I know that there are cultures of misery where, despite the injunction “I mustn’t grumble”, there is always a “but”, and then we can all get together with some shared grumbles about whatever may be wrong today. The government, the weather, the cold, the heat, and so on. How often have you noticed yourself being drawn into a round of shared gripes? In the immediate moment, it may seem like it cheers you up to have a moan with friends. In the long term, however, our community of complainers are only sustaining a negative mindset amongst the group.

There might well be some truth to the idea of the “winter blues”, since the impact of light therapy on sufferers of Seasonal Affective Disorder is well documented. However, how many people genuinely experience SAD? According to a 2014 article in the Independent based on research commissioned by The Weather Channel and YouGov, 57% self-report that their overall mood is worse in the winter season and 40% say they suffer from fatigue during the winter months. 29% of these were rated as being sufferers of SAD and from that group 8% had acute symptoms including low energy, self esteem and high anxiety.

So, many of us feel down during the winter, and most of us have hurried to attach the label that seems to fit our symptoms. But it seems few of us are suffering from a genuine disorder, most of us have a mindset issue around the winter season.

Humans are creatures who are happiest when we are on a mission. This was my take-home message from that great metaphysical movie, The Blues Brothers. We need to listen to our inner voices and try out different ideas and see what works for us, whether it be light therapy or dark glasses at night.

At Anahata, we’ve found our infra-red sauna to be incredibly helpful for the winter blues, as it helps people to feel that they’re being bathed in warm sunshine. Sometimes a dose of summer is all you need to reenergise you when it’s cold outside.

Most importantly, we need to be conscious of our thoughts and how we talk to, and about, ourselves. What mood are we cultivating? What experience of the world are we creating? Don’t be in a hurry to listen to the marketing spin that tells you that you should be feeling down on 20th January, or in winter in general. Take time to think about what elements of the winter, or any time of year, you find challenging and think about how you can best approach them from a place of strength. After all, it might be cold outside, but that’s a great excuse to put on that cosy jumper and stay home with a cup of hot chocolate and your favourite movie. If you’re in need of ideas, I recommend The Blues Brothers.

If you’d like to look at how you can influence your mood and your wellbeing, we’re happy to chat about ways we can help. For a consultation, or to book the infra-red sauna for a whole body sunshine fix, give us a call on 01273 698687.