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  • Deanna Lennox

Blue Monday: Is it Actually a Thing?

Today is #bluemonday, the so-called saddest day of the year and yes that really is a thing. Backed by unsupported pseudoscience, there’s no actual evidence to back up the theory that most of us may feel more depressed today than any other day, but hey it’s a great conversation piece and January sorta sucks so it gives us something to talk about.

The theory behind Blue Monday is that everybody is depressed because they are feeling weighted down from holiday overeating and overspending, the weather is bad and your New Year’s resolutions aren’t panning out.

In 2005, Cliff Arnall, a former lecturer at Cardiff University, was commissioned by a travel agency in the UK to pinpoint the most depressing day of the year as a way to market winter vacations.

As someone who struggles with a mood disorder, I think Blue Monday is mostly bunk, but it’s a conversation worth having. While external factors can certainly affect your mood, for some folks it’s a chemical imbalance. It can be treated, but it’s not entirely preventable, just like any other chronic disease. Just as people with fibromyalgia still wake up with pain, and people with diabetes still get sugar lows, people with chemical imbalances can’t always just “cheer up” at the drop of a hat. Having said that, there are things we can do to lift our spirits. Not all of us have the time and resources to drop everything and spend two weeks in Puerta Vallarta, but we can still look for some of the simpler things in life that will make us happy.

In Scandinavia, an area where they have few daylight hours in winter, they have coined a term called “hygge.” While there is no translation for this into English, it can be loosely interpreted as a term to imply coziness and comfortable conviviality. Think fuzzy socks, fireside chats and a cup of hot cocoa. We love this idea, and there are many ways to incorporate this into everyday life.

While some suggestions of creating your own happiness are not always practical, (It’s blue Monday! I’ll just paint a wall in my house my favorite color. It’s a hop, skip and a jump to Home Depot and that won’t take any time at all.) there are simple things you can do that bring you joy.

We like candles and favorite foods and favorite books. There are mood-boosting foods that are based on science like avocados and leafy greens and then there’s good old-fashioned comfort food like “Better-than-Your-Moms-Goulash,” mac and cheese or mashed potatoes with chicken gravy. When’s the last time you read a Gordon Korman book? If you’re Canadian, you probably know what I’m talking about. If you don’t know, you should probably find out. We recommend some of his older classics, such as “Don’t Care High” or “The Zucchini Warriors.” These don’t contain earth-shattering, life-changing new ideas, but they WILL make you laugh and bring a little levity in a difficult world plagued with pending wars and bush-fires and mass shootings.

If you live in Winnipeg, you could go pick up a gourmet doughnut from Oh Doughnuts, where they are made fresh by hand every day in a variety of weird flavors. There’s no dill pickle today, but they do have butter tart cheesecake, which sounds delish, and my favorite savory flavor, everything bagel. The only problem with that one is it’s just not a bagel. It’s pretty good, though. I’m starting a cleanse today, so I’ll just get my kicks with some mid-afternoon herbal tea.

Then there’s my favorite thing of all, which is laughing at something completely nonsensical with a toddler. I have a three-year-old niece who has a keen wit and a deep appreciation for the zanier things in life. I don’t always get her jokes, but they’re always hilarious. I received a video this morning of my two-year-old nephew pointing out his ears, nose, and teeth, etc. I’m pretty sure if I went up to somebody at the office and pointed to my nose and said “nose!” they would think I had lost the leave of my senses, but when he does it, it’s just plain adorable.

I recently moved back to Winnipeg from the New York Metro area, and have struggled to accept such a different pace of life in a place a friend once aptly likened to the Siberian Steppes. (Yes it can get cold here. Like really, REALLY cold.) New York in December is one of the most enchanting places in the world and Winnipeg in December can just seem like a whole bunch of dirty snow.

I have a favorite cousin who regularly checks in on me to see how I’m doing and generally lift my spirits. She told me recently “Just try and see beauty wherever you are. It’s there if you look for it.” And she’s right.

On Friday night, I went for a drive and it was snowing heavily here in the Peg. I went to the Manitoba Legislature, which is illuminated at night by thousands of beautiful lights. Thick powder snow was falling heavily, the temperature was mild and I felt like I was inside a beautiful snow globe, dazzled by the beauty around me. My inner prairie girl kicked in and man was it ever beautiful.

So happy Monday, folks! Get out there and get your groove on, whatever that looks like for you. I personally love Mondays. They seem like a fresh opportunity to “slay it” and get things accomplished. Sorry, Arianna Huffington, but the hustle culture is still alive. We love bubble baths and self-care, but some of us are still working on amassing a fortune, and we have deadlines to meet.

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