Today is “Blue Monday“, the day in the year when depression levels are greatest and when more people feel down than on any other day of the year. It all happens because of a combination of factors, including several weeks without income and large bills after Christmas, as well as short, dismal days without much sunlight.
Typically, January also sees the highest rate of divorce applications, as well as the largest monthly proportion of suicide attempts. Frankly, it is not a good month. This year we have the worries over Brexit and the Trump Presidency to contend with too. This could make today’s “Blue Monday” the worst ever, according to the psychologist who initially came up with the concept.
You will, of course, find plenty of tips online as to how you can overcome the “blues” today. You’ll see things like “10 tips to beat Blue Monday” or “7 steps to rid yourself of Monday Blues” and so on. Many will have good ideas, however, there is one simple thing that will work without you having to think about a list of things to do.
Stop using the Internet….!
That’s it. That alone will help cure your Blue Monday depression. Here’s how.
People who use the Internet tend to be rather static. They are sat at computer screens much of the day or they are lounging around on their mobiles. Either way, Internet users tend to be rather inactive, leading sedentary lifestyles.
That’s not good for your brain. Recent research investigating 10,000 individuals showed that positive mood is directly linked to physical activity. The less physically active that you are, the lower your mood.
Importantly, the researchers said, “our analyses also indicated that periods of physical activity led to increased positive mood, regardless of individuals’ baseline happiness.” In other words, even if you are pretty low today, just getting up from your desk and going for a walk will automatically make you feel better. Indeed, it will even make you more creative when you do come back to your computer – and your work error rate goes down too.
Give up social media too
Internet users spend around a third of their time using social media. There is now clear evidence that social media use is associated with increased levels of depression.
One study, for instance, showed that there was a clear link between the amount of social media people used and levels of depression. Another piece of research found that the more networks an individual used, the worse their mood. There is even evidence that what we see on social media is connected with post-traumatic stress.
If you have given up the Internet for a while today, you will also be cut-off from your social media activity. It’s a double whammy. Not only can you be more active but you will also remove the depressing effect of being on social media.
Three steps to a happier life online
The Internet is not something we can give up entirely. So we have to learn to manage it so that it does not affect our mental health. There are three ways of achieving this.
- Have clear goals. Know exactly what you are using the Internet for and what you are aiming to achieve. Once you have met those goals each day, or week, or month, you can put the Internet to one side.
- Use the Internet to arrange meet-ups. There is plenty of online technology – even humble email – which will help you arrange real meetings, face-to-face. Indeed, if you simply want to get out of the office and meet me you can do so using my appointments system. Get out of the office more.
- Have a clear “switch off” time. Internet use late at night is associated with poor sleep, which, in turn, impacts on your mental health.
Take these three steps and your life online will be a more positive experience. Indeed, tomorrow you could look forward to a Terrific Tuesday.
Graham Jones is an Internet Psychologist who studies the way people use the online world, in particular how people engage with businesses. He uses this knowledge to help companies improve their online connections to their customers and potential customers and offers consultancy, workshops, masterclasses and webinars. He also speaks regularly at conferences and business events. Graham is an award-winning writer and the author of 32 books, several of which are about various aspects of the Internet. For more information connect with me on Google+