A Lament of January: Why the First Month is the Worst Month

By Morgan Harper

Ah, January. It's like Monday, but worse, and much longer. It's cold, and it's soggy. December has dropped you off on January's doorstep with a holiday-induced, emotional hangover, left to fend for yourself. Sheryl Crow once said, "The first cut is the deepest," and I think she must have been talking about January, because it's the first month of the year, and always the most miserable and difficult, pain-of-a month to push through.

Last week, we powered through what has been determined by psychologist Dr. Cliff Arnall as "the most depressing day of the year." But if you're anything like me, it may have just passed through as an average, lousy Monday. Still, people all over the country are convinced that the third Monday of January is destined to be the most dreaded day of the year.

While there isn't much scientific evidence supporting Blue Monday, Dr. Arnall did create a formula that (sort of) explains where the theory comes from: [W+(D-d)]xTQ/MxNA 

For those of you who see math as some kind of uninterpretable hieroglyphics, I've got you covered after doing a little research and finding a breakdown of the equation for dummies. Basically,

Now, this model may seem a little confusing… mostly because it is. Notice there is no value for D, which is one of the primary reasons this equation can't exactly be used to validate Blue Monday. But if you think about it, the components featured above do help explain why so many people, especially in the United States, are victimized by the January slump. This slump applies to our area particularly because of our weather, our culture, and our traditions. Many places in America have harsh winters. Many Americans go overboard with Christmas glee, and even more of us come up with impractical New Year's resolutions that we fail to stick with after we're just a couple weeks in to the New Year. If groggy weather, a Christmas comedown, debt, no motivation, and failure all fall into this one-month span, what do you get? The long gloomy month we call January. In this sense, Dr. Arnall's formula doesn't seem to be too far off.    

Like Dr. Arnall, several other psychology experts have determined that most people who are affected by SAD, or Seasonal Affective Disorder, have their worst depression spells right before, during, and right after January. If you're facing a bad case of the winter blues, don't worry—you're not alone, and there are a few things you can do to help ease your symptoms. According to WebMD, many psychiatrists and physicians recommend undergoing light treatment during winter months, since SAD is often due to an individual's lack of exposure to sunlight. This treatment may sound a little odd, but it has proven to be very effective. Essentially, the patient uses a 10,000 lux lightbox for about a half hour every morning in his or her own home. You should make sure to take advantage of sunny, winter days. Even if it's cold, bundle up, and go outside for a while for some solar healing. 

It's also important to stay active, both physically and socially. Try seeing a movie with your friends or going to the gym a few times a week. This will help keep your mind busy and help your body stay equipped to deal with winter weather. WebMD also recommends that you avoid overeating by maintaining a diet rich in protein, carbs, and vegetables in order to avoid gaining extra pounds during your winter slump. Most importantly, keep your head up; we've already just about made it out alive of the most depressing period of the season. Now it's time to get out there and show these long, dreary months who's boss! 


Morgan Harper is a Junior English for Corporate Communications major at Christian Brothers University and a staff writer at the Galleon

Posted by Josh Colfer at 11:51 AM

The Galleon is curated and managed by Christian Brothers University, a Memphis-based university founded in the Lasallian tradition (a sect within the Catholic faith). Part of our founding mission is to uphold respect for all persons-regardless of political, religious, or social beliefs. As an institution, we take no stand on political matters; to do so would undermine our commitment to intellectual inquiry and thoughtful response to events taking place in our World by members of the CBU community.

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