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Blue Monday Survival Guide

The term “Blue Monday” was first coined in 2005, not by social science researchers, or others interested in the incidence and prevalence of Depression, but as an advertising campaign for a television channel about travel. The ‘research’ is difficult to locate but was supposedly published by a psychologist named Cliff Arnall who is reportedly affiliated with Cardiff University. Spokespeople at the television station, Sky Travel, claimed that an equation was utilized to calculate the saddest day of the year based on factors such as weather, debt, time since Christmas day, and failed New Year’s Resolutions.  While this implies any Monday of any month is up for grabs for this infamous title- Blue Monday seems to fall on the third Monday of January every year. 

Obvious research design flaws aside, the idea that a day in mid- January would be particularly sad makes sense, at least anecdotally. The rush and excitement of holiday parties have passed, leaving the colder weather and darker days in their wake. Many of us have made, and already failed at, daunting New Year Resolutions of better health, wealth, and prosperity. No doubt the bills from December – a month many of us work less and spend more- are starting to arrive along with the shock of the costs of providing a ‘Merry’ Holiday experience to the people we love. It does not take much convincing to get people contemplating that there are a lot of factors that collide to make January a difficult month.

But, perhaps we can do more than just give the day this catchy title?

Here are my top three ways to combat Blue Monday specifically, and Seasonal Depression in general.

With each is an ‘EmSpiration’ Challenge to help motivate you to make the most of this traditionally Blue Day. 


It has become more widely understood that serotonin has a big impact on our mood. But did you know that light is influential in how much serotonin our body creates? Low light means low serotonin which our brains translate into a low or sad mood. Add to this that low light stimulates melatonin, which makes us crave sleep, and it becomes clear why the winter months are challenging for many of us.  Prioritizing time outside in the sunlight is a natural way to impact this process. Some people utilize light therapy lamps or even tanning beds to simulate the sun’s influence on our wellbeing.

EmSpiration Challenge: Get 15 minutes of direct sunlight before noon on more days than not this week.


We already know that regular exercise is good for our body. Did you realize it is also good for your mind? Literally. Studies confirm that consistent exercise mitigates depression and anxiety. It also reduces stress, improves memory, and aids sleep.

Be creative about it. Dance in your living room. Try yoga. Walk the dog. Try to commit to moving your body for 30 minutes a day. This gets your ‘happy chemicals’ moving which inoculates us against a sad mood.

EmSpiration Challenge: Try a new way to move your body for 30 minutes today.


-to talk about it. An integral part of destigmatizing mental health struggles involves having the courage to engage in vulnerable conversations about what we are going through.  This is true for Seasonal Depression and for a notoriously sad Monday. We are not alone in our struggles- but we will never know that unless we are open and honest about them.  

EmSpiration Challenge: Tell a friend, comment on this article, and/or share this information on your own social media page.  

While I am not sure this Blue Monday will truly turn out to be the saddest day of our 2023, I do think it could be an opportunity for us to re-focus our energy and efforts on self-care routines that will likely benefit us all year long.  So whether you struggle with Seasonal Affective Disorder or could benefit from a reset after the Holiday Season, I challenge you to implement at least one of these suggestions into your routine this week, and all year.

Let us know which EmSpiration Challenge you tried by dropping a picture in the comments!


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