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BlogBeating the January Blues in Montreal

Beating the January Blues in Montreal

Written by E-QIP on January 2, 2020

For all of its beauty, January can be a less-than-inspiring time for many Montrealers. The lights have come down, the joie de vivre of the holidays has passed and the novelty of narrowly avoiding slush-filled potholes and patches of black ice has worn off.

January is a low period for many people, so much so that in 2005, the third Monday of the month was labelled the most depressing day of the year and saddled with the moniker 'Blue Monday', based on a number of factors including the time since the holidays, the weather, holiday-related debt and the time since most people failed their New Year’s resolutions.

Experts have disputed the existence of Blue Monday (which falls on January 20 this year), but the fact remains that the dark, cold winter months following the holidays can often coincide with a period of low spirits for some, especially in a city as far north as Montreal. The Canadian Mental Health Association notes that people often report feeling especially drained during the winter, and in its extreme form these low moods can manifest in Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), a diagnosable illness.

There are resources available if you think that applies to you, but if you’re simply looking for a way to reduce your midwinter melancholy, take a look at our tips for keeping the blues at bay. And if you do buy into the idea of a 'most depressing day of the year', look on the bright side: we’re only seven months away from the happiest.


Get Your Fill of Vitamin D

Lack of exposure to sunlight is a major factor in the gloom that can accompany the winter months. Many researchers believe that this is due to a lack of vitamin D, which we get in spades from the sun in the summertime.

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If you can’t afford a fancy light therapy lamp to mimic the effects of natural light, try to maximize your exposure to the daylight while you can; even short stints in the sun can make a difference. Get off the metro a stop early and spend a few extra minutes walking to school or work, or use your lunch break to go for a quick stroll. And when you have the time, there are plenty of outdoor activities out there that are fun enough to take your mind off the cold.

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Socialize in the Great OutIndoors

We hope you’re taking advantage of the short but ever-growing hours of daylight by spending every possible minute out soaking up the vitamin D, but after nightfall, we don’t blame you if you’d rather enjoy Montreal from the comfort of a heated indoor space. Montreal is home to some fabulous museums, and there’s never a shortage of gigs and other live entertainment to take in. Isolation can be a major factor when it comes to low mood, and simply getting out in the world and being around other people can give you a much-needed emotional boost.

We recommend hitting up a language meetup to make your indoor socializing especially productive (naturally, we suggest E-QIP’s weekly French/Spanish/Japanese/English Tea Time gatherings, but there’s a plethora of options out there!).

Try a New Physical Activity

Exercise is a proven antidote to seasonal depression, and lucky for you, January is the time when many fitness studios offer the best deals in an effort to hook the resolution-making crowd. Getting a sweat on doesn’t have to mean tedious hours spent chained to a treadmill, though. There are countless ways to stay active in Montreal, from adult dance classes to team sports, and you’ll find activities ranging from martial arts to yoga to parkour classes offered at a steep discount on Groupon.

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Give yourself something to look forward to

Articles about bucking seasonal sadness often suggest planning a big trip to give yourself something to plan and anticipate, which is great advice if you have the time and budget. You needn’t look so far away just to find something worth looking forward to, though. Montrealers always love a good time, and a little thing like -20° weather isn’t going to stop us. Winters in Montreal are full of festivals and other fun times to be had. Whether you want to dance the night away or eat to your heart’s content, there’s something going on worth getting excited about. At the very least you can look forward to the sweltering heat and humidity that’s inevitably headed our way in a few months.

Do you have any tips for keeping your mood in top form during the winter? We’d love to hear them; poor mental health can affect attention and concentration and bring motivation to a halt. At a time when many people are focused on physical fitness, taking care of your mental health is one of the best things you can resolve to do. 

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