If you can get through today, it’s all sunshine and roses over the horizon. Well, not quite. But, a British study does proclaim today, January 21st “Blue Monday,” the most depressing day of the year.
It’s likely you’re receiving your tax papers to file for April (always a nightmare), opening your credit card statement from the December holidays (wholly cannoli, it’s going to take six months to pay that sucker off!) and the next major holiday off work is four months away.
It’s more than just the winter blues—it’s a winter rut. Below are seven strategies to help pull you out until spring arrives. Give one a try!
1. Don’t Hibernate
Holiday parties are over, it’s cold outside, and all you want to do is stay nestled inside watching reruns of Sex in the City (those girls knew how to live it up). Invite a friend over to join you, heat up some hot chocolate, and relive the good times.
2. Set Goals
We’re not talking New Year’s resolutions here but taking a small step outside your normal routine could be good for you. Spend 20 minutes in the evening doing something relaxing (knit, do a cross word puzzle, tickle your kids) or listen to a different radio station on your way home from. Even getting your news from a different source could open your eyes to a new way of thinking.
3. Confront Your Debt
Stashing away your credit card statements will only make the problem worse. You’ll incur high interest rates, be passed off to the debt collectors, and ruin your credit history. It might seem wise to just to pay the minimum balance until you can gain for financial footing. But, Boston College recently released a studying say this will only prolong your stay in credit debt hell. Find out what you can afford to pay before even opening the statement and commit to that amount. Then call the credit card company to negotiate down a low interest rate until you can quickly pay off the bill.
4. Think Forward
Planning a fun vacation or signing up for your first 5K race can take this dismal day to the dump. Simply scheduling things to look forward to in the next week, month, two months down the road can improve your outlook now, today.
5. Make Your Own Daylight
Its not only dark outside at 5pm, its cold. Sometimes rainy or snowy. The point is, depression kicks in more during winter months because your body lacks the good feelings only sunshine can provide. There’s even a name for it: seasonal affective disorder. Mimic the effects of sunshine by purchasing a light (Verilux or NatureBright, specialize in therapy lights) and spend 30-45 minutes every morning in the bask of its glow.
6. Sit Up Straight
You’re depressed and now your back hurts—ugh. According to Alan Hedge, Ph.D. and an ergonomics professor at Cornell University, the two go hand-in-hand. Dr. Hedge recommends using the 20-20 rule: Every 20 minutes, stand for 20 seconds and stretch or shake things out. Sitting on a stability ball can also incorporate good back behavior, since your core has to work to keep you sitting straight and your spine aligned.
7. Acts of Kindness
Sometimes faking being in a good mood can do the trick. Smiling at a stranger, holding open a door, or paying a compliment can put someone else in a good mood—thereby improving your own and decreasing up to 94 percent of depressive symptoms.