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'Blue Monday' may be a reality for some this year

For 15 years, the third Monday in January has been billed 'the most depressing day of the year,' but it's actually not true
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For 15 years, the third Monday in January has been dubbed “Blue Monday,” billed as “the most depressing day of the year.” This simply isn’t true. Research in Ontario suggests that 15 percent of the general population have experienced the winter blues, which can include changes in appetite and lethargy as the days grow shorter. The winter blues differs from Seasonal Affective Disorder, or SAD, which affects about two percent of the population and is a serious form of depression. Symptoms include weight gain, decreased energy and fatigue. However, the challenges we are facing this January 2022 are real and most people are impacted, the weather is chilly, we may be sad about the end of the holidays, or they didn’t shape up the way we envisioned them to be, and most of all the COVID-19 pandemic continues.

The recent Omicron variant has thrown us all for a loop for many reasons, we were feeling optimistic with the roll out of vaccines and getting back to some sense of normalcy, the rules have changed of how we protect ourselves, and recent lockdowns were unexpected and have been especially hard on families and the elderly. And now the pivoting back to in person school, while important for the mental health of children, has many parents and students anxious.

The Canadian Mental Health Association Waterloo Wellington (CMHA WW) offers tips and validation of the feelings many are experiencing now:

Try not to avoid, ignore or suppress anxious thoughts. Instead, be aware of your anxiety and accept that you’re feeling anxious in this situation. Try to keep things in perspective; notice and challenge your thoughts that may be extreme or unhelpful.

Take the recommended precautions as outlined by Health Canada and other credible health agencies. Remain focused on the factors within your control, such as washing hands, wearing a proper mask, avoiding non-essential travel, etc.

Focus on the present and how to make each moment the best it can be given the circumstances we are all facing.

Check in with yourself daily to see how you are feeling emotionally, this helps with misplacing your feelings of frustration and anger.

Reaching out and talking to a professional can help you get those feelings of frustration out and express your feelings in a productive way.

Try to get enough sleep, eat healthy, get outside – especially when it is sunny, and exercise.

Seek information from reliable news sources only. Limit checking in on the latest news to short, defined periods, and refrain from setting related push notifications on your device. Appropriate information consumption may be calming and can lessen the sense of danger.

CMHA Waterloo Wellington is here to help. CMHA WW offers a number of programs and services as well as crisis support through Here 24/7, 1-844-437-3247. Visit our website to to access free webinars to increase your mental wellness and visit for resources for coping with mental health during COVID-19.

The Canadian Mental Health Association Waterloo Wellington (CMHA WW) is a non-profit organization that provides a full care system for those with addictions, mental health or developmental needs. CMHA WW serves everyone from children to adults to seniors and helps individuals and families to lead lives filled with meaning and promise.