Fight Those January Blues

Sad DogMisery is expected to peak the third Monday in January (Monday, January 20, 2014) being that it’s the “most depressing day” of the year. (Note: you can say things like “is expected to” if one person expects it to be true.)

That one person is Cliff Arnalls of Wales, who created the formula to determine the worst day of the year. (Note: if you can find someone who agrees with him, we can say: “Researchers agree…”)

bluemonday2

whereby…

W = weather
D = debt
d = amount of January pay check
T = time since Christmas
Q = amount of time since failure to quit bad habit
M = motivational levels
NA = the need to take action

Even though the shortest day of the year is December 21st, the weather continues getting colder throughout the month of January. In fact, in the ancient Roman calendar, the year originally started in March and ended in December. The months of January and February were just one big shapeless clump of days, as the calendar was used mainly for agricultural purposes and was based on lunar cycles rather than solar.  In the 700s BC, January and February were “created” to fill in the gap.

By a couple weeks into the new year, the energy of the holidays has long dissipated, folks have failed all or most of their resolutions, and their bank accounts are still empty.

Of course, this is just a theory — one that has been dismissed by many. But if you do feel down around this time of the year, not all hope is lost. Experts may have found the most depressing day out of 365, but they have also found a number of ways to combat the accompanying feelings of depression.

To lighten the mood during Blue Monday or whenever all seems overwhelming, try these helpful tips:

exerciseGet out and exercise

Staving off the blue can be achieved in many cases with proper exercise and diet. In addition to improving a person’s self-image, exercising regularly releases feel-good chemicals in the body. Physical activity also increases body temperature which creates a calming sensation and reduces the release of stress hormones and other certain chemicals which can make symptoms of depression worse. Use Blue Monday to go out for a jog, play with your pups, or do a 20-minute round at the gym!

Be social

Celebrate Blue Monday with friends and family. Individuals who spend at least two hours a week interacting with others experienced less intense symptoms of depression compared to people who remained isolated. So if you are feeling down, make an effort to find some company!

Get Out of BedTake things one step at a time

For serious bouts of the blues, keeping things simple may be one of the best answers to fighting off Blue Monday. Instead of thinking about all the things you have to do, just focus on the task at hand. First, focus on getting out of bed. Once that task has been accomplished, focus on getting dressed, eating breakfast and getting ready for the day. By keeping things simple, you can feel a sense of accomplishment with each small task.

Keep up with a hobby

It makes sense that doing something you enjoy boosts mental health, and keeping up with a hobby has a positive impact even on patients with major depressive disorders. The use of hobbies to combat depression was primarily used by researcher Viktor Frankl, who created a psychotherapeutic technique called logotherapy. This form of therapy used hobbies and enjoyable activities to help refocus depressed individuals on what they felt was the meaning of life. Having a purpose, such as caring for a pet, helped bring patients back into a productive daily routine.

Do not fall victim of the hype

Who is to say your day has to be a bad one? Remember, you have control over your emotions and thoughts.

Helpful TipsTips for making it through Blue Monday:

“Have a party and celebrate” – Jack Gilbert, Ontario, Canada

“Exercise and bibliotherapy” — Dr. Alan Cohen, Royal College of General Practioners

“Watch the film ‘The Sound of Music’” — Ketan Shah, Harrow, England

“Move to New Zealand… It’s summer!” – Oliver, Auckland, New Zealand

Thank you, New Zealand, for rubbing that in.

Note: make sure to visit Sandman’s Facebook Page on Monday, January 20, 2014 for a giveaway that is sure to cure your Monday or January blues!

Autumn Across Canada – Like the Changing of the Guard

Fall is a season that is deserving of its poetry. It’s not blatant like summer’s heat or winter’s snow. It’s a quiet season, when everything is looking to the colder, darker days for rest. With the storms that sway the trees and brilliant leaves that grace the forests, it’s also wildly beautiful. Travelling in Canada this fall, staying at the numerous Sandmans across the country, means bearing witness to the  stunning scenes that could inspire your own poetic musings.

autumn colours

A Wave of Colour
Fall means a change in the colours of the landscape, with spectacular reds, oranges, and yellows that gradually fade into winter’s whites and greys. The Niagara Parkway near Niagara-on-the-Lake is famous for its glorious fall colour, as are the sugar maples, birches, and beech trees of Quebec’s Laurentian Mountains. If you’re in the west, catch a view of the larches changing colours in the mountains around Lake O’Hara in the Canadian Rockies.

Awe-Inspiring Storm Watching
Go coastal, and feel the beauty of the rainy season. Vancouver Island’s Tofino and Ucluelet are famous for the beauty of the surf. Walk along the beach in the mist or pouring rain, or as the winter storms rage while you’re snug in an ocean-view lodge.

When the fall rains come to British Columbia, the streams fill up with spawning salmon.  The pounding water and rolling boulders are inspiring, and the crowds of visitors are mostly gone. grizzly bearFind a safe place to watch the water as it roars by, and you’ll understand the true meaning of the word awesome.

Eagles and bears accompany the salmon, feasting as the fish complete their life cycle. Goldstream Provincial Park near Victoria is an excellent place to go salmon-watching, while Brackendale near Squamish is known for its eagles. If you’d like to see wildlife of the larger, hairier variety, day trips and overnight lodges out of Campbell River bring visitors to see the grizzlies as they feast on the fall salmon runs.

Fall Sunsets That Will Blow You Away
On Canada’s prairies, the sky seems to go on forever, and so does the sunset. Sit next to a pond in the evening, enjoying the sounds as night starts to arrive.  Go north, and you’ll also have the opportunity to experience the Northern Lights, bits of colourful light that play across the sky in the dark.

Canada GeeseMigrations That Will Move You
There’s nothing like the honking of the Canada geese to get you in the mood for fall. It pairs nicely with a hot cocoa and a toque.

Across Canada’s north, wildflowers begin to fade, tundra readies itself for the cold winter, and the northern caribou populations begin to make their way south. 

If you’re looking for a somewhat more urban experience, Canadian wetlands play host to a myriad of bird species in the fall, as northern birds migrate south. At the Reifel Bird Sanctuary just outside Vancouver, the fall migration of Lesser Snow Geese arrives in October. Up to 20,000 of these birds come to visit the marshes of the Fraser Valley each year. The geese come from Wrangel Island in the Arctic, and they seek out the more temperate climate of Vancouver for the winter.

The Misty Shores
newfoundland_115011499In the fall, go for the mist rising off the lake or the seashore. Visit Canada’s east coast for beautiful lighthouses, tiny coves, and small villages as well as busy urban centres. More specifically, Nova Scotia’s Lighthouse Route for a collection of more than 20 lighthouses, scenic fog, and ocean spray.

A Canadian fall is all about the quiet mist and gently falling leaves. It’s also about the power of the storm and the magic of migration. It’s an awe-inspiring season of beauty, and one not to be missed.