So It’s Blue Monday


With the introduction of Social Media, the number of what is known as “awareness days” has skyrocketed. Whatever your interest, whatever you are into, there is a day tailored to your niche. As a runner I am well aware that the first Wednesday in June is Global Running Day. It’s inauguration was on June 1st, 2016. That day saw more than 2.5 million people from 177 countries pledging to run more than 9.2 million miles.

Some awareness days predate social media by decades. One such day that resonates with me is National Bike to Work Day held every third Friday in May. It was originated by the League of American Bicyclists in 1956 to encourage biking as an alternative to driving to work. Today, the observance is part of National Bike Month which helps to raise awareness of “commuting without polluting”. And, with more people working at home during the pandemic, emphasis is also being put on #BikeThere — or short “bike hikes” to Starbucks or errands to the local home-office supply store!

And then there is Blue Monday, held every third Wednesday in January. This day actually started as a public relation stunt in 2005 by a British travel agency to try to get the public to book their vacations with that agency. They cited psychologist Dr. Cliff Arnall’s mathematical formula that pointed to the third Monday in January as the most depressing day of the year. Dr. Arnall came up with this formula years ago while working as a tutor at Cardiff University. One of many factors is the weather at this time of year. Freezing and gloomy outside doesn’t bode well with many people here in the Northern Hemisphere. Then there’s the realization that the holidays are over, along with the festive cheer and the temporary high that they provide. New Year’s resolutions are often broken by now. There are generally lower motivation levels and feeling a need to take action. 

Blue Monday hit it off, but for the wrong reasons. Thus it has become very controversial. Some retailers, both online and in the real world, even use Blue Monday as a stage for quick sale, offering special discounts for 24 hours to help people beat the blues with “retail therapy” by grabbing bargains. Mental Health issues aren’t something that gets worse on one mid-January day. They can happen all year round. So can feeling blue. The science behind Dr. Arnall’s formula is frequently questioned and highly scrutinized for possibly trivializing depression. One of Arnall’s university colleagues, Dr. Dean Burnett commented, “There is no such thing as a 24-hour depression”.

Dr. Arnall mentioned “He’s now on a mission to prevent from further spreading the self-fulfilling negativity that Blue Monday has unleased”. In an interview with The Independent newspaper Dr. Arnall said that it was “Never his intention to make the day sound negative”, but rather “To inspire people to take action and make bold life decisions”. The Scottish Sun mentions that “Dr. Arnall, now runs happiness and confidence sessions for celebrities and businesses, giving numerical ratings to “misery factors” like Christmas bills, failed New Year resolutions, winter weather woes and low motivation”.

“Life-Coach” Dr. Cliff Arnall in Tenerife launching the #StopBlueMonday movement (PRNewsFoto/The Canary Islands Tourism Board)

It may be called “Blue Monday”, but for me some really cool things happened on this 3rd Monday of January. First of all I am back on my crossing guard duties. This pandemic has been very hard on my mental health. With schools becoming closed numerous times, I’ve actually lost count the number of times I’ve been layed off temporarily as a crossing guard. And the number of times the church I lay pastor has closed. The church is still a question mark. Even though my return date was a blustery stormy day, which closed the schools on my 1st day back, you couldn’t wipe the smile off my face that I am returning as crossing guard.

Don’t let the stormy weather make you blue on “Blue Monday”

The second “Blue Monday” item is I registered for an ultra. With our planet in a Climate Crises, I could no longer justify driving 200-300 kilometers each way to run a race. With public transit non-existent in some areas & not even coming close to within twenty kilometers for other venues, I was actually wondering if my ultrarunning days would be over. The ultra I signed up for is a brand new race called Rainbow Trail Run held in beautiful Earl Rowe Provincial Park. I signed up for the 96 kilometer distance. I’m very excited. Being a 70 kilometer drive from home, it’s still not ideal. But much closer than all the other ultras. And I’m really going to try and carpool with someone to cut my travel footprint in half.

Beautiful Earl Rowe Provincial Park where I’ll be running my 96k on Sat. August 6th. Photo credit Kris from Twitter.

As an environmental advocate, this past year has been incredibly unsettling. In Canada we saw record setting heatwaves. There was out of control wildfires and heavy flooding. Both of which obliterated communities. In December my area in Ontario experienced extremely erratic weather, with unseasonably warm temperatures, heavy rain and major windstorms. Much of the weather and climate experienced by communities in the Great Lakes is driven by the seasonal behavior of the lakes. I live in a snow belt region on the lee of the Great Lakes (the largest group of freshwater lakes on earth). In December we will normally get hammered with lots of snow, as a result of cold air gathering moisture off of the warmer Great Lakes. By the time Blue Monday rolls around mid-January the lakes are quickly freezing over. With ice capping the lakes, that enormous snow making machine shuts down. Although we do get some snow in February and March, there are numerous bright, beautiful, crisp sunny days. Such a gorgeous time of year. Winter did get off to a rocky start, and this past week we had a nice stretch of cold weather. Which is normal here in Canada in January. Although the Great Lakes are far from being frozen the way they should be, the steady cold temperatures is making up for lost time. Great news for sure on Blue Monday. These are my three good news items on what is supposed to be the gloomiest day of the year. Let’s use this day to look at the positives. As well as using this day to become better versions of ourselves.

Do you have any good news items to share for Blue Monday, supposedly the gloomiest day of the year?

Photo taken December 17th. No snow, +18C, along with rain and windstorms.
Temperature January 11th. This is what I like to see. We had a couple more nights like that since then. Photo credit Sharon Miles (neighbor 2 doors away)
Beginning of January it started to get colder. By January 9th the Great Lakes had 7.93% ice coverage. Once the lakes freeze we receive more sunshine and less cloudy, snowy days. So important for people who suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). From 1948 to 2020 Canadian temperatures have climbed 1.8 degrees Celsius, according to Environment Canada. Whether it is the Arctic or the Great lakes, weather patterns are changing as a result of warmer temperatures and decreasing ice. Image Source
One week later on January 16th the ice coverage is at 16.4%. Keep that ice coming. The less ice there is, the greater lake evaporation takes place resulting in lower lake levels. Environmental Protection Agency mentions that “Rising water temperatures encourage the growth of certain waterborne bacteria that can make people ill”. Image Source
Image Source. Warmer, less bitter cold winters as a result of climate change enable the populations of gypsy moths, various types of bark-eating beetles, and the black legged (or deer tick) as in this photo to thrive during the summer months. Black-legged ticks is the specie that carries the dreaded Lyme disease. U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) photo.

Categories: HealthTags: , , , , , , ,

24 comments

  1. Cheers Carl ☕ Enjoyed reading after shoveling today 👍👍

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I’m so glad you found an ultra in your neighbourhood, Carl!!!
    Just yesterday I was thinking about you and wondering whether you will find a race nearby.
    Yes, 70k from your home is not ideal, but it’s better than travelling 200 – 300k each way for a race. And if you can carpool, even better!
    96k is a great distance, I’m sure you will enjoy the training and the race.

    Also nice to hear that you could return to your crossing guard duties – despite the icy cold weather. I bet the kids are happy to see you there!

    Many people in Switzerland are involved in winter sports – cross country and alpine skiing. They often take a week or two off work between January and March to go skiing in the mountains. Personally, I don’t ski so I can relate to the Blue Monday feeling. Spring feels so far away and it’s hard to stay optimistic and upbeat.

    Thanks for your good news items today, Carl. I’m sure many of your readers appreciate it!

    Stay warm, safe and healthy!

    Liked by 1 person

    • You are so kind to be thinking of me like that, Catrina. Thank you. I’m very excited. The director of this race is the same person who was run director of this past years Monarch Ultra. It couldn’t have been 5 minutes later after registering, that Jodi the race director sent me a personal email thanking me for registering, and that she is really looking forward to seeing me again. The race is 12 kilometer loops. Different distances are 1 loops, 2 loops, 4 loops, 8 loops (which I am doing) and 14 loops (which is 168 kilometers).Was really undecided on the 8 loop and 14 loop, but decided on the 8 loop. I am thinking of something quite big in July that is self supported. It might be too much to do that in July and the 100+ miler in early August.

      We had a major snowstorm yesterday which closed the schools. Today was my 1st official day back on the crosswalk. Sometimes we will have a heavy snow, and the school buses will be cancelled, and the schools remain open for the walkers.

      Despite having three downhill ski resorts within 20 kilometers, I don’t ski myself either, Catrina. People here also take a week or two for a ski vacation. Also here in Canada, people with the financial means will fly down to Florida or to a resort in one of the islands in the West Indies. I’ve never been to either. A lot of retirees will actually spend their entire winters down in Florida. They are called “snowbirds” here in Canada, as they are escaping the snow.

      Thank you for reading and for sharing such a generous comment. Hope you have an amazing week. 😀

      Liked by 1 person

      • What? The same race director? That’s amazing, Carl!
        This race was made for you. So glad you’re doing this one!
        Your winter is a lot more severe than what we have in Switzerland.
        Stay warm and safe, Carl!

        Liked by 1 person

  3. So happy you had good news on Blue Monday! I never heard that expression before, but working in a hospital many years have noticed an increase in mental wellness visits. I haven’t worked in the hospital for about 4 years so long before the additional stress of the pandemic.

    I can only imagine how disheartening it has been for you to have so much uncertainty with the school and church being open. But congratulations on getting back to school and signing up for an ultra near you!

    This is my favorite time to hike in the woods and hopefully this year I’ll be able to snowshoe. It seems our winters are warmer and dryer so I never got a chance to go at all last winter.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you for reading and for your generous comment, Courtney. This is really interesting to read about the increased number of hospital visits this time of year. This is my 1st week back on the crosswalk. So wonderful to be back.

      It’s too bad that the winters are changing, and getting warmer. Our January this year here in Canada is quite a bit more seasonal. Cold, and a fair bit of new snow. Which is wonderful. I love hiking in the woods this time of year as well. Everything is so serene and peaceful. I do hope you get enough snow to get out on your snowshoes. ❄️❄️❄️😀

      Like

  4. In my student days in Heidelberg, Germany, I learned that Blue Monday or Blauer Montag meant being “hung over” from too much alcohol and having to return to work. Many people did not like having to return to work on Monday after having the weekend off. I, on the other hand, never felt that way and went about my work as cheerfully as I could. Interesting that Blue Monday is celebrated on a Wednesday by some. I enjoyed the post. Thanks.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you so much for reading and for your fascinating input regarding Blauer Montag in Germany. You have a wonderful attitude to work cheerfully. It is amazing the positive difference a positive coworker can make in the workplace. 😀

      Liked by 1 person

      • Canuck Carl, my pleasure. Whenever I encountered a negative attitude, I listened and then tried different approaches to “teach” others what I had fortunately learned from both of my parents: to have a positive attitude in life. I tempered my attempts to heal negative attitudes and moved on to where I could be of help whenever I encountered those not interested. I planted many seeds of positivity in life. Isn’t that what life is all about? Be well and your thoughtful comment to me it very much appreciated. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      • This is exactly what life is all about. Your positive attitude is contagious. Thank you for making I still remember that beautiful post where you praised your husband. 🙏

        Liked by 1 person

      • Canuck Carl, thank you. So glad the positive attitude is contagious. Pass it on so that others can share in the joy. My husband is a pearl of great value. Be well and enjoy the week. 🙏

        Liked by 1 person

  5. I did not realized that there are so many awareness days. I don’t like the idea of a blue Monday though. Thanks for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Hi Carl,

    Fascinating background and information in this post (as always!) It was interesting learning about how Blue Monday came about.

    Here’s hoping your new year has more certainty to it. I know for me at least having a good routine and regular schedule makes a world of difference. Also, good luck for the Rainbow Trail Run!

    For me there is some positivity toward the end of January. I managed more running than I did the previous month, got to discover some great new local trails and found a way to run all the way to the coastline and back again from home. I also started flying lessons for a PPL. It was always a dream of mind as a kid to be a pilot. I’m flying Cessna’s now for training, but Rolls Royce have an amazing new fully electric concept airplane that they are breaking records with. I’m hopeful those engines will replace traditional fuel and jet-fuelled engines in the near future!

    All the best!
    Sean

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you so much for taking the time to read, Sean. And for your kind words.

      Thank you for sharing what your current aspirations are. You have done so amazing to explore all those new trails close to your new home. And following through on that childhood dream on becoming a pilot is so incredible. What a thrill that must be.

      So happy to hear about the Rolls Royce fully electric concept airplane. When talking aviation, the testing these engines would go through must be phenomenal. I can’t even imagine. It will be an incredible time when fossil fuels are a thing of the past! 😀🛩

      Like

  7. Very informative post Carl……loved it…thanks for sharing!! My best to you the cross guard and the lay pastor. It has truly been trying times and I applaud the commitments you have made concerning the environment!! Take Care!!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you so muck Kirt for such kind words. I have mutual follows and interaction with several climate scientists on Twitter. The future of our planet looks really dismal. Really trying to do what I can. I really appreciate all your support here, Kirt. Thank you so much! ☺️

      Liked by 1 person

  8. You live in what looks like a beautiful area, Carl! Here’s to all of us doing our part. I’m looking seriously at purchasing an EV to replace my gas-powered car this year. It’s a start . . .

    Liked by 1 person

    • I am so fortunate, Kay. This really is a very beautiful area. Thank you so much for sharing and for doing your part. That is wonderful. The last few years I’ve had a Prius. Though very stingy on fuel, it still runs some on gas. I am hoping for the day when there is public transportation to and from my village. Otherwise there will be an EV in my future also. 🌎

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Blue Monday, I didn’t know that, but where I work where stress and mental drain is high, we call it “Mental Health Day,” ever time we call in sick. It’s the only time to focus on healing the mind, heart and body. More than ever, anxiety and depression needs to be addressed and treated with respect and dignity.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you so much for sharing. It is so important to take those Mental Health days. The workplace really can be stressful. Hopefully more and more workplaces recognizes this self care is important for their well being. Thank you for taking the time to read. 🙏

      Liked by 1 person

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