Monday, January 19, 2009

Blue Monday

From the Auburn Journal 1/18/09 by Michelle Miller-Carl:

There aren’t many reasons to be happy these days. Your New Year’s resolution to jog is losing out to the snooze button every morning. Whether it’s TV, online or in the paper, you’re assaulted by bad news.

And all the Christmas gifts you bought this year are haunting you — in the form of credit card statements that are finding their way to your mailbox.

So for all you doom-and-gloomers out there, here’s another reason to stay in bed tomorrow: it’s the most depressing day of the year.

Jan. 19 is Blue Monday, the nadir of sadness for 2009 as calculated by Dr. Cliff Arnall, a former tutor at Cardiff University’s Center for Lifelong Research.

His equation for unhappiness uses weather, debt, time since Christmas, time since failing New Year’s resolutions, low motivation and need to take action to determine the unhappiest day of the year.

The formula for calculating Blue Monday receives a flurry of media attention at this time each year, despite some discrediting the somewhat shaky mathematics behind it.
But what Arnall didn’t figure into his equation this year was a global economic slowdown that has compounded our collective depression.

Rick Rivera, 61, of Auburn, admits he’s pretty bummed out by all the sour financial news.
“There’s never been anything like this. I thought I saw everything in the early ’80s and ’90s, but it’s nothing like this. This is a bottomless pit,” he said. “It just won’t stop. It keeps going on and you know more is coming.”

Dr. Jordan Hamilton, a clinical psychologist in Auburn, says all the bad press takes a toll on your mood. “One of the things I certainly recommend to my clients is to end your obsession with bad news,” he said. “People latch onto bad news, they’re constantly on the Internet, reading the newspaper and watching TV (for bad news) when these are things which people have very little power to change.”

While bad news is an external cause of unhappiness, much of our misery comes from within, especially around the first of the year. “Around the holidays, people are reminded of unresolved issues,” Hamilton said. “When they begin the new year, they look at what they have not done over the year. There’s a great deal of self-criticism that goes on.”

While he’s not aware of a mathematical legitimacy of Dr. Arnall’s equation, Hamilton said it makes sense that all these factors could compound into a season of depression. Of course, if depression symptoms are persistent, seek professional help. But for your run-of-the-mill gloominess, there is a remedy.

“The three best prescriptions for depression and anxiety are exercise, exercise, exercise,” Hamilton said. Given Auburn’s sunny skies, there are plenty of ways to get outside and work out. But if you think the beautiful weather isn’t a cause for melancholy — think again. Our lack of precipitation has put the Sierra snowpack at below-normal levels, setting the stage for drought concerns.

Mack Smith, 58, of Auburn, pointed out that Jan. 19 will be the last day of George W. Bush’s administration. “That’s a happy day,” he said. “Anything is better than Mr. Bush.”

Joan Noell, 61, of Roseville plans on being in stitches on the most depressing day of the year — she’s having three friends over for a quilting party. “I have so much going on there’s no time to be depressed,” she said. “I’m too busy doing things I enjoy doing.”

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