BRAUN: Blue Monday is here

Time to mark the third Monday in January.

Officially, that’s Blue Monday — THE MOST HORRIBLE AND DEPRESSING DAY OF THE WHOLE YEAR!!!!

Or not.

As with diamond engagement rings, female virginity, Gucci shoes or reality TV, the importance of Blue Monday is entirely fabricated, a concept foisted on the world through careful marketing.

How did you come to believe in something entirely made up?

The official term for this is “illusory truth effect” which just means that if you’re exposed to information often enough, you start to believe it’s true. Repeating something until it becomes received wisdom works everywhere, but particularly in advertising (It’s the real thing!) and politics (Donald Trump).

So that’s why you believe that Blue Monday is a thing.

Since we’re repeating exactly what we wrote about Blue Monday last year, you probably believe it even more now. Certainly, the idea of Blue Monday is rooted in reality. If you live in the Northern Hemisphere, January can be a terrible month — solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and rather long.

The weather is appalling and getting worse, thanks to climate change; there’s nothing quite like a whole month of being reminded that your species is on its way out.

This is the month in which people shovel snow and keel over with heart attacks, or drive in the ice and snow and fly off the road. Or, open their VISA bill and wish Christmas had never happened.

Toronto Sun files

Bills. Lack of sunshine. All those hefty New Year’s resolutions blown to smithereens. What jolly fun!

You can see how Blue Monday came to be.

Now: What to do about it?

There are all kinds of self-help lists available for defeating Blue Monday, and they all have a few tips in common. It boils down to the same advice your mom gave you about being happy — you need something to do, someone to love and something to look forward to.

Blue Monday can be helped with exercise (those endorphins). It doesn’t hurt to have a new project or something new to learn, and doing something helpful for someone else is also useful for dispelling winter gloom.

On a more serious note, if you hate the general suckage of Blue Monday, consider what it would be like to feel that way a lot of the time. Anyone experiencing true depression needs all the uplift he or she can get; everybody else needs to work on helping get rid of the stigma attached to mental health issues.

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