It’s ‘Blue Monday’: The most depressing day of the year

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – It is the third Monday of January, a date which is becoming widely known as Blue Monday — the most depressing day of the year.

It was first described as such by a U.K. travel company, after using pseudoscience to calculate the date using a sophisticated equation that apparently factors in weather conditions, debt levels, the time since Christmas and the early failure of New Year’s resolutions. Many scientists have said it just doesn’t make any sense.

Still, the “Blue Monday” feeling could resonate this year, with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and resulting restrictions.

And while some may see it as a marketing gimmick, some experts say the concept of Blue Monday represents real struggles Canadians are going through in the winter, especially in the second wave of the pandemic.

Toronto mom Ashley Wassar was diagnosed with depression in her teens almost 20 years ago. She says COVID-19 has made her disorder feel even worse.

“My mom and my step-dad used to be able to take my son for a night or two — or come here — and watch him while I was studying or working on projects for school. They can’t now. They are both immunocompromised,” she explained.

Wassar is going through a separation, facing financial hardship, and also misses socialization. That’s common for many Canadians this time of year, according to Linda Naranjit, clinical director at Morneau and Shepell.

“January, when you look at it, there’s so much going on with Seasonal Affective [Disorder], people are struggling with regards to coming out after the holidays,” she said. “Lockdowns, curfews — there is an increased sense of loneliness creating a bit of isolation for many folks.”

Although it may seem simple, medical experts recommend fresh air and physical exercise to help beat the blues.

According to a poll released last spring, the number of people who regularly felt stressed doubled since the pandemic began. The survey, commissioned by the Mental Health Commission of Canada, found nearly 40 per cent of people felt their mental health had worsened. Over 1,000 people took part in the survey.

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