The third Monday of January has been designated the saddest day of the year. Known as Blue Monday, in the northern hemisphere at least, this is due to the combination of failed New Year resolutions, Christmas bills falling due, cold weather, gloomy days, long nights and being a long time until the next public holiday. As Doutzen Kroes (Dutch model and actress) said, “I am definitely a summer person. Don’t get me wrong: I love winter when it’s beautiful and sunny – I don’t really care about cold – I just hate the grey”.
Now you might think this is nonsense, but there is some science behind it. Psychologist Dr Cliff Arnall derived a formula using various factors to determine this. As an aside, the same formula predicts that the happiest day of the year is usually in late June at the height of summer. Makes sense, I suppose.
Now this is a bit of fun and is not intended to trivialise depression. We all need to be mindful of our mental and physical health and take steps to preserve and improve them. One very real issue with winter is the likelihood of feeling low and out of sorts. In a recent UK survey about winter 77% of people reported that they had lower energy levels and 71% reported a poorer mood. You may have experienced this yourself – the winter blues or Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). SAD is a type of seasonal depression with the following symptoms:
• Persistent low mood
• Loss of interest in normal activities
• Feelings of despair and worthlessness
• Lacking energy and feeling sleepy
• Sleeping for longer than normal and finding it hard to get up in the morning
• Craving carbohydrates and gaining weight
• Lowered immune system
The causes of SAD are not fully understood, but it’s thought to be caused by reduced exposure to sunlight. It is thought that the lack of sunlight stops the brain from producing the right amount of several key substances. These are:
• Melatonin. A hormone that makes you feel sleepy. SAD sufferers produce more than normal levels.
• Serotonin. A hormone that affects your mood, appetite and sleep. Reduced levels are linked to feelings of depression.
• Vitamin D. This vital vitamin boosts the immune system and ensure healthy bones, teeth and muscles.
So, be mindful of your mental health and mood. Always take the opportunity to get a little sun on your face even if it is winter sun. Consider taking vitamin D supplements.
If you or someone you know is struggling with low mood, depression, anxiety or stress then Hypnotherapy can help. Contact me for more information.