• The third Monday in January has been named the most depressing day of the year (also known as Blue Monday); this has to do with post-holiday slump, cold weather, debt, and lack of motivation.
  • Fortunately, you can protect yourself on Blue Monday, by first coming up with a safety plan to implement if/when those depressive feelings do creep in—this could involve socializing with others or channeling your creative juices.
  • You should also make sure you’re spending enough time in the sun or at least some sort of light; while this is more difficult to do so in the winter, simply opening the blinds first thing in the morning can go a long way.
  • Another helpful tip is to plan your day around self-care: activities that will fulfill you physically, emotionally, socially, and spiritually. Volunteering is a great one!
  • Additionally, stop living for the weekends. You should incorporate some fun into every single day, including the often despised Mondays.
  • Finally, consider working with a mental health professional if you’re concerned about your mental health on Blue Monday or any other day of the year.

According to Psychologist and Life Coach Dr. Cliff Arnall, the third Monday in January is the most depressing day of the year. He used a formula—which considered the weather, motivation levels, debt, post-holiday slump, and the amount of time until vacation season—to determine this date as the most depressing of them all. This is alarming for many, especially those who already struggle with depression or simply despise the winter season. The good news is that you can protect yourself from the most depressing day of the year, otherwise known as Blue Monday. And the professionals are here to see that through. Here’s their advice for fighting off depressive feelings on Blue Monday and other dreary winter days, for that matter:

1) Come up with a safety plan.

First, you should have a clear plan in place for if/when you do start feeling blue, of which might include reading a favorite book or calling a friend: “If you begin to feel your mood declining then it is important to have a safety plan in place,” says GinaMarie Guarino, licensed mental health counselor. “In this safety plan, you can include measures to keep your spirits high, like keeping to an exercise schedule, keeping up with social activities (even if it is cold), have some indoor activities handy if you cannot get our or are feeling the need to keep busy (books, crafts, movies, etc.) and have a list of people to call and catch up with if you start to feel lonely.”

2) Find the light.

We often forget just how important it is to spend time in the sun. Obviously, we spend less time in the sun during the winter months because the days are shorter as well as colder—but that doesn’t mean we can’t improvise. “Invest in a light therapy box if you generally struggle with seasonal depression. Or just making sure you have ample light is very helpful,” says Nicole Issa, licensed clinical psychologist. “When you wake up, make sure to turn on all of your lights and leave your shades open to let as much natural light in as possible. Try to get natural light during the day at work with a short walk outside.”

3) Plan self-care activities.

Another tip for surviving the alleged most depressing day of the year is to plan a few specific self-care activities around four important needs. Jessica Tappana, licensed clinical social worker, explains: “Self-care is always important, but can be especially important when you are more vulnerable to feeling down anyway such as during the post-holiday slump. I define self-care as anything you intentionally do to meet your physical, emotional, social, or spiritual needs. So, the best advice I would have for Blue Monday (or any day where you’re more vulnerable to feeling down) is that you plan one self-care activity for each of those areas. For instance, you might start the day with a workout (physical), make a list of things you’re grateful for (emotional), plan a fun get-together with friends after work (social) and read something inspirational before bed (spiritual).”

4) Give back.

Patricia O’Laughlin, marriage and family therapist, adds that now is the perfect time to serve others and give back. It’ll help you feel better during this depressing time of year and it’ll help others feel happier too. “While most people save volunteering or giving back for the holiday season, giving back during those first harder weeks of January can help cope with the Monday blues. Giving not only feels good, but also helps our brains focus more on what we have versus on what we don’t. It can help us remember that we didn’t lose everything when the holidays ended, we just lost the holiday season,” O’Laughlin explains.

5) Stop living for the weekends.

Monday is as good as any other day to enjoy yourself! You can protect yourself from the Monday blues every single week if you start prioritizing fun. “One of the best ways to beat Blue Monday is to not save the fun for the weekends. People often hold out until Saturday and Sunday for yoga and Netflix and brunch. You need to be having fun very day,” Kyle Elliot, career and life coach, explains. “Take a walk mid-day. Stop at your favorite coffee shop on the way to work. Go out to dinner on a Tuesday. Incorporate fun throughout your days and weeks to make life more enjoyable, not just the weekends.”

6) Seek support from a mental health professional.

Finally, if you’re worried about how you’ll feel on the most depressing day of the year or how you feel during the winter in general, consider working with a mental health professional. “The uptick I’ve seen in clients interested in therapy during this time of year is so high, and I see so many clients greatly improve their mood after a few sessions,” says Brie Shelly, licensed mental health counselor. “There is something about the darkness, and cool, gray weather that can feel isolating even if your life is going well in other aspects.” Don’t be ashamed to seek help. We all experience difficult feelings, especially in the dead of winter.