The start of a new year can be a challenging transition following the holiday season as social calendars quiet down, bills arrive and long winter nights continue to bring chilly temperatures.

These factors and others associated with the post-holiday letdown can trigger heavy feelings of sadness, despair, uncertainty and discouragement.

If you’re feeling this way, chances are you are not alone. It’s a difficult time for many and mental health issues are said to culminate on the third Monday of every January, widely known as Blue Monday. Considered to be one of the saddest days on the calendar, Blue Monday falls on Monday, January 16 this year.

What to do if you’re feeling blue

According to Daniel Liddle, a Calgary Foothills Primary Care Network mental health professional, there are many ways to cope with difficult feelings. He says having empathy and a sense of understanding is key.

“Blue Monday is a day that individuals will often feel at their lowest, feel hopeless and isolated and struggle with what the future may bring,” says Liddle. “For me, personally, it means I need to be more attentive to family, friends and colleagues who may appear fine on the surface but may be struggling internally.

“It’s an opportunity to be more sensitive and compassionate.”

Alberta Primary Care Networks provide a wide variety of mental health supports for those struggling. Help is available from your family doctor, one-on-one appointments with mental health professionals, or in-person and virtual workshops ranging from topics like anxiety, grief, and happiness.

Blue Monday and beyond

“For many, (Blue Monday) is a real thing,” Liddle adds. “Please treat people with kindness and concern. For those whom it directly impacts, please know there is help available. You do not have to endure this alone.”

Liddle says it is important to reach out to a family member, friend or your family doctor about how you are feeling and be willing to discuss your emotions.

A large support system is important but, Liddle says, one person can make a difference and be the difference.

While the post-holiday blues and Blue Monday can impact the first few weeks of the new year, it’s also important to prioritize your mental health as the calendar continues.

“Mental health is ongoing,” says Liddle. “Although Blue Monday can be a day to recognize, mental health does not take a break for the rest of the year. Ongoing support, throughout the year, is crucial for anyone facing mental health concerns.

“Mental health doesn’t rest after Blue Monday, and nor should we.”