Formula determines “Blue Monday”… most depressing day of the year

The most depressing day of the year is almost upon us, according to a formula created several years ago and factoring in the most unsavory attributes of January, including winter weather conditions, lingering holiday debt and well-intended new year’s resolutions. “Blue Monday,” typically the third Monday in January, is called the most depressing day on the calendar, and this year, it falls on the 21st.

With this looming dreary date and the excitement and cheer of the holiday season slipping away, it’s no wonder we sometimes have trouble returning to our regular schedules once the holiday season ends.

The holidays are full of excitement and activities; enjoying school and work vacations, exchanging gifts, and celebrating time-honored traditions with family and friends. But once January begins to settle in, it’s common to feel a bit sluggish for a while when getting back to our pre-holiday routines and activities. From taking down decorations and resolving to be healthier after too many holiday cookie indulgences, to work commitments and waking the kids up early for school, returning to regularly scheduled routines can require a little extra effort during this time of the year.

“There can be disappointment following the end of the holidays, and it can take some effort to get back on track once they’re over,” said Wendy Levin-Shaw, a licensed clinical social worker and therapist with Squirrel Hill Psychological Services.

At SHPS, Wendy works with individuals, couples and families on a variety of challenges, including those related to relationships, parenting, marital conflict and interfaith marriage. She sometimes helps her clients settle back into their daily routines in the weeks following the holidays.

“It’s easy to get caught up in your everyday routines during the year,” Wendy said, “but when something comes along to interrupt them, like the holidays, it is a wonderful opportunity for reflection. Think about the choices you’ve made during the past year and whether you are satisfied or want to make some changes.”

Rather than making resolutions related to specific aspects of your life, Wendy suggests regular “reflections” as a way to keep track of the decisions you are making, and ensure that you and your family are happy and healthy throughout the entire year. Considering the following advice can help make the most of the new year and ease the transition back to regular routines.

  1. Take notice of how you spend your timeHow an individual spends their time is an indicator of what is important and of value in that person’s life. While we have commitments and obligations to attend to, take note of how you choose to spend your free or leisure time and whether those activities are fun or meaningful to those you care about.

  2. Make sure you are taking care of yourselfIncorporate healthy activities into your daily routines. Consider your priorities when it comes to health and wellness, and see if there is room to change a few things in your life to help you and your family feel healthier and more fulfilled-spiritually, mentally and physically.
  3. Seek out additional resourcesMost individuals and families are able to manage getting back into their pre-holiday routines on their own. However, if you or your family feels there is a need for counseling or advice, contact Wendy Levin-Shaw at 412-521-3800 or by email at For additional counseling or therapeutic needs, call Squirrel Hill Psychological Services at 412-521-3800 or visit
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