Expert Advice to help Canadians move past "Blue Monday," the most depressing day of the year

Jan 17, 2013, 10:46 ET from Dr. Arya Sharma, MD, FRCPC

EDMONTON, Jan. 17, 2013 /CNW/ - Feeling blue? You are not alone.  According to Dr. Cliff Arnall, a Cardiff University psychologist, the third Monday in January is the "most depressing day of the year." Dr. Arnall coined the term "Blue Monday" in 2005 and says that dreary weather, mounting debts, post-holiday comedown, a sense of failure from backing out of New Year's resolutions, and a lack of motivation, all converge perfectly to make January 21, 2013 a complete bummer.

Dr. Arya Sharma, Chair in Obesity at the University of Alberta, says that the best way to beat the blues is to stay on track with your resolutions by taking small steps. According to an Ipsos Reid poll, 75% of Canadians make annual resolutions and the number one objective is to lose weight. He offers the following advice to stay positive about their resolutions and to take control of their health goals.

"Seasonal conditions like long, dark days and cold weather can affect our moods, appetites and energy levels. For many of us, we forget to make health a priority."  Dr. Sharma advises, "Instead of letting go of your resolution to stay healthy, make managing your caloric intake while focussing on eating a balanced diet and being physically active part of your daily routine."

To help Canadians achieve and maintain their health goals through "Blue Monday" and beyond, here are a few tips from Dr. Sharma:

Understand why calories count:

  • Learn how calories are the currency of weight management. When it comes to weight, all calories are equal - too many total calories and your weight goes up; to lose weight you need to consume fewer calories than you need.
  • Consult your doctor or dietitian to find out what intake is right for you. On average, a healthy diet consists of 1,600-1,800 calories for women and 1,800-2,000 for men - but this can vary by age, body weight, activity levels and other factors.
  • Swap in low- and no-calorie options of your favourite foods and beverages, like portion-controlled snacks, so you don't feel deprived. If you want a full-calorie option, balance the rest of your day to account for this selection.
  • Change at least one meal a day to incorporate low-calorie foods - replacing a baked potato with steamed broccoli, for example - can be enough to reduce your calories for that day.
  • Beware of the calories in alcoholic beverages - they can quickly add up.

Stay active:

  • Stay active in everyday life. Every additional step counts. Wear a pedometer to monitor your steps and work on gradually increasing your daily step count - remember to set realistic goals.
  • Reduce sedentary habits by standing up and going a few steps extra or stretching at least once every hour. Uninterrupted sitting at your desk may be as unhealthy as eating too much.
  • Find a workout routine you love - whether it is Zumba, yoga or spinning! Mix up your workouts to avoid getting in a rut.
  • Join a friend to work out with.  When you have to meet someone else at the gym, you are more likely to go.

Get enough sleep:

  • Make sure you get enough sleep. Not getting enough sleep can affect your mood, your energy levels, and increase your cravings for unhealthy foods.
  • On average we need 7-9 hrs of sleep - if you are excessively tired or fatigued during the day or have trouble falling or staying asleep consult your doctor for advise on improving your sleep.

Finally, Dr. Sharma notes that, "Everyone is different, so consult with your doctor or dietitian about what is best for you based on your diet history and current health goals. The key to success is to make small changes so you don't feel deprived along the way."

About Dr. Arya Sharma, MD, FRCPC

Dr. Sharma is the University of Alberta's endowed chair in Obesity Research and Management and the Scientific Director of the Canadian Obesity Network (, Canada's national association of over 8,500 obesity health professionals, researchers, and other stakeholders. Dr. Sharma has published over 350 scientific articles on obesity and maintains a widely read blog on obesity prevention and management (

SOURCE Dr. Arya Sharma, MD, FRCPC