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How Are You Doing? Let’s Talk About It!

Posted in: Mental Health | Posted by Rebecca Ingram on January 18, 2021

Winter blahs and COVID getting you down? Feeling it even more right now? You are not alone! Since 2005, the third Monday in January has been referred to as the saddest day of the year – or Blue Monday. This year Blue Monday was January 18th but with all that is going on in the world right now, every Monday may feel like Blue Monday. 

Although the origins of Blue Monday can be traced back to a marketing ploy by the now defunct, Sky Travel, as a way to get people to book vacations, the day can be linked to a time of year when many people are feeling low, more significantly this year as the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic continues. 

The 3rd Monday in January was chosen based on a fictional equation using factors like weather, debt to income ratio, time since Christmas, time since failing New Year’s resolutions, low motivation levels and a need to take action. Even though the equation fails to make mathematical sense and is farcical, each component has a real and palpable impact on our state of mind. Throw COVID-19 into the mix, with further lockdowns/shutdowns and states of emergency declared, and it’s no wonder it feels like our mental well being is being tested to the max. 

Even though Blue Monday isn’t based on fact, it serves as a good reminder that we need to think and talk about mental health; our own, of those close to us and of those we work with. The facts are staggering and the impact on our economy is significant:

  1. Mental illness is the leading cause of workplace disability in Canada.
  2. 1 out of every 5 Canadians will experience some form of mental illness at some point in their lives.
  3. In any given week, more than 500,000 Canadians will not go to work because of mental illness.
  4. 2 out of every 3 people suffer in silence, afraid that they will be judged or rejected.
  5. Mental health problems and illnesses cost the Canadian economy at least $50 billion per year.

Perhaps it’s not a coincidence that the 10th annual Bell Let’s Talk Day happens shortly following Blue Monday. In 2021, Bell Let’s Talk Day is January 28th. 

Bell Let’s Talk is a campaign initiated by Bell Canada in an effort to raise awareness and combat stigma surrounding mental health. It began in 2010 with a 5 year goal of contributing $50 million to mental health programs in Canada, with a unique method of fundraising using interactions on various social media platforms. For one day a year Bell Canada pledges to donate 5 cents to mental health in Canada for every interaction – be it a phone call, text or on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest or YouTube, Instagram, Snapchat or TikTok. So far, more than 1 billion interactions have been recorded and the campaign is so successful that it was renewed in 2020 for another 5 years and a commitment of $155 million. 

To find out how you can ‘Join the Conversation’ and help make a difference, visit the Bell Let’s Talk website, download the Bell Let’s Talk toolkit and/or check out Bell Let’s Talk – Ways to Help.

In the meantime, if you are looking for ways to combat the winter blahs and protect your mental well being, consider these simple tips:

  • Up your Vitamin D intake – Eating foods rich in Vitamin D, like fatty fish, fortified dairy products and egg yolks (they even look sunny!) or by Vitamin D supplements. A balanced diet and good eating habits boost the immune system and contribute to a healthy lifestyle.
  • Get outdoors during daylight hours – Even if it is overcast, the fresh air and minimal sunlight can increase your energy and improve your mood. If getting outdoors is difficult or you are feeling particularly low, consider using a light therapy lamp which mimics daylight/sunlight and can stimulate part of the brain connected with eating, sleeping and depression. 
  • Exercise – Make sure you get up from your workstation and move throughout the day, especially if you are working from home due to COVID. Without the commute forcing us to get up, get dressed and get going, we tend to become complacent and more sedentary. Stimulating your metabolism, breaking up the monotony and even just a change of scenery can have a positive impact on productivity and frame of mind.
  • Embrace those ‘weak ties’ connections – Remember to smile under your mask and engage in light conversation with those people that you encounter throughout the day whether it is while operating your essential business or running essential errands. Minimal interactions, with the checkout cashier, the restocking clerk, the stranger waiting in line with you, the Skip-the-Dishes driver dropping off your food order can all add up and restore a sense of well-being and belonging while elevating your mood and theirs – even while social distancing.
  • Reach out – Connecting with family, friends, or co-workers through video conferencing such as Zoom, Facebook Messenger, Skype, WhatsApp, and FaceTime can play an important part in addressing loneliness and aloneness. A scheduled weekly chat with workgroups and/or family and friends can go a long way to improving mood and feelings of isolation while providing something to look forward to.
  • Check-in – Touching base, not only with loved ones and co-workers but taking the time to do a self-check on how you are coping with all the challenges we are facing can help identify issues and address them before they become critical. 

We are all in this together and together is the only way we are going to get through this! So be kind, stay healthy, reach out, check in and remember to join the conversation on January 28th.

As always, we are available to answer your questions and/or address your concerns to the best of our ability. You can reach us directly at [email protected], [email protected], by phone at 1-844-377-9545 or you can connect with us on Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn.

Resources:

  • The Scotsman – history behind Blue Monday: Click here
  • Awareness Days – more history and equation used to determine Blue Monday: Click here
  • Wikipedia – Blue Monday: Click here
  • CTV Jan 2020 – how to overcome the saddest day of the year: Click here
  • CTV 2019 – Blue Monday myth persists: Click here
  • CBC Jan 2020 – Blue Monday tips: Click here
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