5 ways to beat the Blue Monday blues
Editorial note by Dr. Jessica DiVento, a licensed clinical psychologist, serving as Global Head of Mental Health at YouTube:
Each January, the arrival of Blue Monday can be a reminder to reflect on the critical importance of being aware of and investing in your mental health. On Google, searches on “how to beat the winter blues” more than doubled in the US over the last week, while search interest in “how to be happy again” have nearly tripled. Knowing that people come to YouTube to connect and gain valuable insight from the community and its creators, we are committed to making high quality health information accessible to everyone. Sharing resources through video is a cornerstone of the platform and by connecting our community of viewers to qualified experts, we believe that complex topics, like mental health, can be broken down into content that is both impactful and easy to understand. In today’s blog post, we will hear from one of our health creators, Dr. Courtney Tracy, a licensed clinical social worker and a doctor of clinical psychology and creator behind The Truth Doctor Show, on how to put the blues around Blue Monday behind you.
Let’s face it: the period after the holidays is not always merry. The stress of post-holiday bills, missed loved ones, shorter days and dreary winter weather often culminates in mid-January. This is what is generally regarded as “Blue Monday.”
As a psychotherapist, I work with my clients to understand what’s happening within their mind and body during these seasons of life and help them find compassion for the place they’re currently in. Outside of the clinical setting, I find that the best way to provide these services to my online audience is by using pop culture, both fictional and real-world examples, as a medium on my YouTube Channel, The Truth Doctor Show.
Every year during this time, I speak with both clients and members of my YouTube community who are feeling down and are seeking support and guidance. Just as I explain to them and now you today, while the feelings associated with this time of the year can be troublesome, they can often be addressed and helped.
To help you beat the seasonal drag, here are five tips to make Blue Monday a little more bearable.
Discuss financial anxieties with someone you trust
Whether you’re dealing with the billing realities of a holiday splurge or worried about an unpredictable economy, January can mark the start of belt tightening. Money can often be a difficult thing to discuss, but if this is something that gives you stress, talking can be cathartic.
Identify someone in your life or part of your community who understands finances, has space and time to support you and ask for advice. Don’t have anyone close or trustworthy enough? Take a look at expert vlogs, message boards or group pages for professionals who can help. You deserve to talk openly, without judgment, about something so vital to your survival and stability. As an important reminder: never share financial details such as bank account number or other identification info.
Joy and connection aren’t restricted to the end of the year, even if the major holidays are!”
Set aside time to connect with loved ones you miss
Spending time with the people you care about may be just the boost you need. Keep it simple: perhaps it’s a half hour video call on Sunday nights or a quick message to the family group text. Or maybe it’s as easy as choosing a TV show to watch to discuss with friends later. Joy and connection aren’t restricted to the end of the year, even if the major holidays are!
Soak up some natural light to beat the season's long nights
The darkness of the winter months can be a big factor to feeling down. When dealing with seasonal depression, or general feelings of sadness, that can be triggered by shorter days and longer nights, make sure that you are going outside to take in the natural sunlight. This allows your body to process the sunlight which can help adjust the chemicals in your brain and body that contribute to the symptoms of depression.
If you’re afraid to ask for support, remember what you’d tell a friend who was thinking about therapy. You’re allowed to say 'I need help and I don’t know how to help myself.' It’s not a weakness; it’s a strength.”
Seek professional help when you need it
No matter the time of year, it’s important to protect and nurture your mental health on a regular basis. Nowadays, we are lucky to have resources to make that journey easier. Widen your idea of what help looks like. Think community meetings, group therapy, counseling, psychotherapy. If you’re afraid to ask for support, remember what you’d tell a friend who was thinking about therapy. You’re allowed to say “I need help and I don’t know how to help myself.” It’s not a weakness; it’s a strength.
Check out accredited online resources for helpful information
For those looking for online solutions, YouTube Health has introduced new features to help connect you with information from authoritative sources and I’m very excited to be a part of it. Now, when searching for a mental health related topic, you will see health source information panels and health content shelves that highlight videos from these sources, so people can more easily navigate and evaluate health information online. I’ve reviewed many of these videos and I highly recommend them as a supplement to professional care or introduction to what long-term care and support may look like.
I often share this personal quote with my clients who are struggling this time of year: “If you feel isolated in a world full of eight billion people, just know that you’re not alone in that feeling”. While overcoming the effects this season can bring may feel like an uphill battle, with professional support, resources and a little well-deserved self-compassion and community, the heaviness of Blue Monday can feel much lighter.