Struggling with SAD-ness: Blue Monday and Maintaining Mental Health

(Today’s featured image/header is a self-portrait painting I did in highschool when I was 16, acrylics on canvas)

As “Blue Monday” has come and gone this week, I think about the significance of maintaining one’s mental health.

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Blue Monday formula above.

The term Blue Monday was actually coined in 2005 by Sky Travel, a company looking to boost sales for destinations with warmer temperatures. It is believed that Sky Travel hired a university lecturer to come up with “a pseudo-mathematical formula to pinpoint the most depressing day of the year: he combined weather, debt, time since Christmas, motivation levels, the need to take action, and time since New Year’s resolutions were made.” There is no actual scientific evidence that the third Monday in January is the most depressing day of the year, but maybe that’s okay.

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Self-portrait I painted as a teenager when I was feeling down.

Although Blue Monday is somewhat of a recent notion, it doesn’t make it any less of an annual tradition – people still celebrate Valentines Day, Labour Day, and in Canada we now have Family Day in February! As time passes, people will likely start to care less about the history and more about the positive associations and memories that come with Blue Monday. The label encourages people to put effort into their happiness and check in on one’s mood. Sometimes being reminded that other people are also experiencing hard times can make someone feel better – feel less alone. Mental health is a difficult thing to measure in quantifiable terms, so finding scientific evidence of the most depressing day of the year would prove to be difficult as well.

 

Seasonal Affective Disorder
“Weather often affects people’s moods. Sunlight breaking through clouds can lift our spirits, while a dull, rainy day may make us feel a little gloomy. While noticeable, these shifts in mood generally do not affect our ability to cope with daily life. Some people, however, are vulnerable to a type of depression that follows a seasonal pattern. For them, the shortening days of late autumn are the beginning of a type of clinical depression that can last until spring. This condition is called “Seasonal Affective Disorder,” or SAD.” – Canadian Mental Health Association

The Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) acknowledges what is called Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) which could realistically be connected to the origins of Blue Monday. Approximately 10% of Canada’s population is affected by the reduction of sunlight in our winter months. This means that Sky Travel’s creation of Blue Monday was capturea brilliant PR move – a quick solution to combat SAD is to hop on a flight to an all-inclusive beach resort and soak up some rays. However, taking a last-minute vacation isn’t in the cards for everyone, especially after an expensive December.

Like the capitalist society that we are, other corporations have jumped on board the Blue Monday bandwagon. Discounts, sales, or one day deals actually help us afford to treat ourselves, even if it’s something small. For example, I got an email from Cineplex last week informing me that my Scene points would be worth double (get a movie ticket for half the amount of scene points) for one day only, for Blue Monday.


collage1.jpgI asked my mom if she wanted to come see
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story with me (second time for myself, first time for her) and she was an obvious yes. We ate dinner at home, picked up some grapefruit coolers for after the movie, and went to check out of reality for a couple hours at the theatre.

We did girls-night right:

I think that it’s important to live a balanced lifestyle, or try to at least because I don’t know anyone who has actually mastered this art. We all have a lot going on and you need to remember that as amazing as other people’s lives may look on social media, they’re not perfect either. That’s why this particular capitalist-created day of the year isn’t all that bad. Embrace the concept of taking care of yourself, there are many affordable (or even free) ways to actively work at keeping happy. Start a pinterest board that you can go to when feeling down, one of things that make you happy as well as ideas of free ways to cheer yourself up!

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Sacchan the mysterious and overweight japanese dog from my favourite video.

What are some small things that you do to make yourself smile and maintain your happiness? For me, I look at an excessive amount of dog photos and videos. I’ll finish this week off with my current favourite dog video, enjoy!

 

 

Adult Girls-Night-In: Planning a Pyjama Party

 

About one month ago, a friend of a friend of mine (Freaky Stories phrasing flashback) started a group Facebook message to see who would be interested in

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Collection of  photos of how our decorations turned out!

throwing our friend a belated surprise party. Our girlfriend had planned a birthday celebration for herself a couple of months ago only to have her mother suddenly pass at a young age just one week before. Obviously, her party was cancelled and her birthday was the last thing that she felt like celebrating.

We wanted to show her how much she means to us and celebrate how awesome she is! Her husband was going away for the weekend, we were given the go ahead, and we knew the key pad code to their house so the surprise was underway and party planning commenced!

I was so excited; I love planning events and themed parties especially when it’s going to make someone I care about happy! I quickly created a secret Pinterest board so that she couldn’t see what we were pinning and I invited the other girls to the group (I have since made the board public). We all agreed that being comfy was key which is how the pyjama theme was chosen. These are a small collection of pins that initially inspired our party:

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Together, we decided what we would all need to bring. We had a bit of a potluck snack table and we asked everyone if they were able to bring a bottle of wine, sheets, blankets, and img_8528pillows. Our plan was to make her living room into the comfiest place that we could – similar to a fort, but as if the fort collapsed and you just laid on tons of blankets and pillows! Since I live next door, we used many of my throw pillows (see Chris, I knew there was a reason we own so many), rearranged a bunch of her own, and made great use out of the sheets that the other girls brought.

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My friend’s Morkie Tank, the only male in the room, thoroughly approved of all the comfy pillows!

Earlier that morning I blew up 31 balloons to make multiple ‘balloon bunting.’ I blew up a balloon and used scissors to cut a small hole in the tied end of the balloon. I then fed a long string of yarn through the hole and continued this process in patterned colours. It is so much easier than sticking balloons to the wall individually and cheaper than purchasing a helium tank. I got the idea from this pin that I didn’t end up using for my wedding (I wish I had because I loved how they turned out).

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Until I was ready to bring them next door I tied the ends of the yarn together and hung them on my basement door in bundles (prepare for minor tangles).

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We started decorating her house at 3:30pm and the other invited women were to start arriving at 5:00pm. Surprisingly quickly, the room came together and surpassed our expectations – we couldn’t believe that it actually looked like examples that we had seen on Pinterest! The place transformed into a slumber party wonderland with tons of pillows, blankets, old sheets, a lot of balloons, three small strands of mini lights, vanilla tea lights, some banners, plastic table cloths, and streamers from the dollar store! This look was created by three girls in about an hour and a half – a very doable feat for you readers out there.

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Playing Catch Phrase

After our guest of honour arrived, our total was complete with seven women. The wine began to flow and we played games including a few Minute to Win it challenges, Catch Phrase, and Cards Against Humanity. There were lots of great conversations and laughter as we ate our delivered pizza and snacks. We ended the night with a very enthusiastic dance party to nostalgic songs from artists including Spice Girls, TLC, Destiny’s Child, Backstreet Boys, and Aqua. The dance party made sure that I was hurting the next day in more ways than one, but it was all worth it because:
A. it was so much fun and
B. our friend was happy!

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Don’t be intimidated to try throwing a similar party yourself! It is easier than you would think and you definitely won’t regret the effort that you put into making your next girls-night-in extra special.15060256_10154762812352834_199752290_o

 

 

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