If this Monday, the third Monday in January, is the most depressing day of the year, it can only get better from here. Right?

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This article was published 15/1/2017 (1609 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

If this Monday, the third Monday in January, is the most depressing day of the year, it can only get better from here. Right?

Well, that depends on whether you believe Blue Monday is a thing or not, and if you do believe, what you do about it.

WAYNE GLOWACKI / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS</p><p>A special light at the Millennium Library for people to help boost their mood due to SAD (seasonal affective disorder). </p>

WAYNE GLOWACKI / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

A special light at the Millennium Library for people to help boost their mood due to SAD (seasonal affective disorder).

It is alleged, backed by no respected science or research, the third Monday of January is the most depressing day of the year.

The Blue Monday idea originated with a 2005 news release from a travel company in cahoots with a public relations firm.

In the release, a formula was said to have been created that came up with the third Monday of January as the most depressing day of the year by using six factors: weather, debt, time since Christmas, time since failing New Year’s resolutions, low motivational levels and the feeling of a need to take action.

While Blue Monday has been perpetuated by social media and publicity campaigns, Adam Milne of the Mood Disorders Association of Manitoba said the idea is based on some very real issues for this time of year.

"They didn’t make Blue Monday up out of nothing. You’re mixing in a lot of things, and the month of January is a hard month for a lot of people," Milne said.

"In Winnipeg and the northern parts of North America, we have long winters, and January is very difficult. It’s freezing, it’s dark when you get up, it’s dark when you get home, and these things affect people. Another reality is there is a big letdown after the big emotional high after the holidays for a lot of people," he said. "You’re looking at two or three more months of winter, maybe you’ve used up a lot of your holidays, and family time is over, and now you’re staring at three more months where you’re at work every day (with) no break in sight."

Dr. Kristin Reynolds, an assistant professor in the University of Manitoba’s department of psychology, said she hasn’t come across the concept of Blue Monday in her research, research literature or clinical work with patients in nearly a decade in the field.

"But certainly some of those factors, such as time since Christmas, holiday spending, lack of motivation around New Year’s resolutions in addition to really sub-zero cold temperatures, lack of participation in enjoyable activities could lead to some support around the idea," Reynolds said.

For some people who make New Year’s resolutions and find them broken or discarded by mid-January, that can be accompanied by feelings of failure.

"New Year’s resolutions, people can feel hope in terms of what goals can they set for 2017, and this might be the period where people start scaling back on some of their achievements on some of those goals and not meeting them and seeing that motivation go down," Reynolds said.

Milne said self-care, such as maintaining routines and healthy eating, can help people get through the dark days.

There are also light therapy lamps at both the Millennium Library and the St. James-Assiniboia Library that are available free of charge for anyone to use.

The lamps have been gaining popularity with people living with seasonal affective disorder (SAD), a form of depression the Mood Disorders Association says affects about 15,000 Winnipeggers, in which some people find less hours of sunlight in the fall and winter affects their mood.

Coun. Scott Gillingham (St. James) spearheaded the initiative to bring in the lamps last year.

"I first saw the idea in Edmonton two winters ago. I thought Winnipeg is as cold and dark, so perhaps lamps in our libraries could benefit our residents, brighten the day and improve quality of life for Winnipeggers, especially people with seasonal affective disorder," he said.

He said the lamps have had a good response from the Mood Disorder Association of Manitoba and from people using them at the libraries.

The Winnipeg Regional Health Authority says 30 minutes each day in the light can make a difference as the lamps are also a source of vitamin D.

"Get involved in your own life," Milne said.

"People need that reminder at this time of year because it’s so easy to just stay home. It’s easy to say, ‘It’s too cold, I don’t want to.’ Thinking you’d like to be somewhere else in your head means the same thing as ‘I don’t want to be here.’ Call one of your friends or family members. Don’t wait to get involved in new things, find something and do it now."

ashley.prest@freepress.mb.ca