- Should you pay any attention to this tabloid health story?
- Is your mindset increasing the risk of heart disease, stroke, cancer and infection?
- Revealed, 8 ways to be happy
Well, it’s that time again…
The newspapers are full of panic…
The Mirror, The Sun, The Independent…
All of them have articles on the distressing event to come.
And what is it?
THE MOST DEPRESSSING DAY OF THE YEAR.
Yes, on Monday it’s “officially” the most depressing day of the year, known as Blue Monday for obvious reasons.
Why this Monday in particular?
Because in 2005 the Sky Travel television channel encouraged a psychologist named Dr Cliff Arnall to devise a formula to work out the most miserable day of the year.
So he came up with this:
[W+(D-d)] x TQ / MxNA
Well here’s the key to the equation.
• W = weather
• D = debt
• d = monthly salary
• T = time since Christmas
• Q = time since failure of attempt to give something up
• M = low motivational level
• NA = the need to take action.
But you don’t really need an equation to work it out, do you?
It doesn’t take a scientist, a doctor, a psychologist or a mathematician to work out why a Monday in the middle of January might be considered miserable for many people.
January is a dark, cold, rainy month where there are no special celebrations or festivities.
Many of us are skint after Christmas and trying hard to stick to healthy new diets (see my recent email for my thoughts on this: Diet Myths Revealed)
It’s a less social month where we have struggle with our addictions and compulsions, trying valiantly to change ourselves for the better, facing the hopeless realisation that we might not succeed.
This doesn’t apply to everyone of course but it’s a general truth based on the experience of many people.
So do we need the “most depressing day of the year” announcements every year, with pretty much word-for-word the SAME articles on the subject?
Not according to the mental health charity Mind who make two good points:
• There isn’t any science behind it – this was just a guy coming up with a theory for a TV company.
• And even if it’s true, it’s insulting to the many people who suffer genuine depression all year round, no matter what the weather, financial outlook or dietary regime they’re on.
I know I sound a bit grumpy about this. But I’m not.
I’m well aware that these annual articles about Blue Monday are more a curiosity and a bit of fun than a real medical or mental health issue. It’s a fascinating idea that caught on, because it looks so darn SCIENCY, even when it isn’t.
Really, it has nothing to do with the illness depression which is something very serious that deserves its own issue of the People’s Doctor.
However, depression aside, a lot of us (me included) do find that life gets on top of us sometimes, particularly in the winter months.
You might even be one of these eternally pessimistic types who finds it hard to be positive.
And that can be a long-term health problem.
Is your mindset increasing the risk of heart disease, stroke, cancer and infection?
If you’re feeling generally miserable, down in the dumps and like the world is a gloomy place (for instance, if you watch the news, EVER) then it might be a good time to address this.
Because there is very good health reason to make yourself happier.
In December last year some new research from Harvard University was published in the American Journal of Epidemiology. It studied 70,000 women who were between 58 and 73 years old.
Those that had an optimistic outlook had a lower risk of heart disease, stroke, respiratory disease, infection and even cancer.
It wasn’t a small margin of difference either…
The top 25% most optimistic women were almost 30% LESS likely to die from any of the above diseases, compared with the 25% most pessimistic women.
Eric Kim, who co-authored the study, said: “Our new findings suggest that we should make efforts to boost optimism, which has been shown to be associated with healthier behaviours and healthier ways of coping with life challenges.”
In other words, happiness is good for you.
Then again, it probably doesn’t take a scientist to tell you that either!
But what is happiness and how can you get it?
Well, if I knew the answer – or if I could click my fingers and make it happen – I’d either be sat on the top of a mountain like a wise man OR I’d be a millionaire filling out the O2 Arena.
Happiness is a slippery thing to define, but the Harvard Medical School have given it a go….
8 ways to be happy
• Seeking pleasurable emotions that make you feel good
• Pursuing goals that engage your mind and body
• Doing good for others and looking for meaning in life outside your own needs and desires
• Being grateful for what you have in your life and appreciating it while it’s there
• Paying attention to pleasure when you experience it and consciously enjoying that experience
• Being mindful: focusing on what’s happening right here and now, accepting it without judgment or thinking into the future or past
• Taking care of yourself, finding self-compassion for yourself.
Can you tick everything off on that list? If not, it might be time to address some of these issues.
In the meantime, I’ll do some research into emotional wellbeing for you and come up with some more specific techniques, breakthroughs and ideas to try out later in the month.
How does that sound?
Until then, good luck on Blue Monday, let’s hope the world survives!