Move for your Mood: Stay active on Blue Monday

There might not be much science behind “Blue Monday” being the saddest day of the year, but the winter blues are very real.
Move for your Mood: Stay active on Blue Monday
  1. There might not be much science behind “Blue Monday” being the saddest day of the year, but the winter blues are very real and can involve sadness or unhappiness attributed to the dark and cold weather.
  2. As the winter days get shorter, darker and colder, many people have less energy and a lower mood. Ongoing pandemic related stressors can deepen the impact of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)
  3. Blue Monday is traditionally thought of as the saddest day of the year due to stressors such as post-holiday blues, weight gain, cold dark days, failure to stick to New Year’s resolutions and the arrival of holiday bills. Although not science backed, it has endured as a day of note because of the very real effects of the winter blues.
  4. SAD is a clinical condition, and there is a critical, clinical difference between being in a bit of a funk during the winter (the “winter blues”) and living with SAD
  5. SAD impacts a small percentage of the Canadian population: About 2-3% of Canadians may be affected by serious symptoms of depression characterizable as SAD, indicating clinical depression, associated with the season. SAD is diagnosed more often in women than in men.
  6. Winter blues affects more people: About 15% of Canadians experience more mild symptoms of sadness or unhappiness associated with the dark, cold weather (not SAD, but the “winter blues”).

  1. According to recent data, the pandemic has led to significant mental health challenges and stress for Canadians, particularly among Canadians who lost their jobs as a result of the pandemic, individuals with pre-existing mental health conditions, youth, 2SLGBTQ+ individuals and individuals with disabilities
  2. 77% of adults report feeling so-called negative emotions as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
  3. 41% of Canadians say their mental health has deteriorated since the onset of the pandemic.
  4. Older adults had twice the odds of depressive symptoms during the pandemic compared to pre-pandemic.
  5. 70% of school-aged children, and 66% of pre-school aged children have experienced a deterioration in their mental health.[i]

  1. That’s why ParticipACTION & the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) are using this day to raise awareness of the mental health benefits of physical activity and give Canadians actionable solutions to Move for your Mood!
  2. Since most people who live with SAD begin to develop symptoms in fall or early winter, it’s important to establish healthy habits early (exercise, social connection, daily routines).
  3. Physical activity can help you cope with stress, reduce anxiety and depression, lift your mood, can even help you think better, increase self-esteem, and can play a role in preventing the development of mental health issues. This makes it an essential component in our mental health tool kits.
  4. You don’t need to run or hit the gym for hours, just 15 minutes of moderate exercise can provide a mood-enhancing effect.
  5. While physical activity can be one of your tools to help combat the winter blues, you can always reach out for additional supports and services if needed.

  1. The evidence is overwhelming and consistent: physical activity is fundamental to our health and well-being. Unfortunately, Canada is far from an active nation.
  2. The recent release of the 2021 ParticipACTION Report Card on Physical Activity for Adults shows that most of us are not meeting recommended physical activity guidelines.
  3. Covid-19 has made a bad problem worse – increasing sedentary behaviours and drastically reducing the incidental movement that comprises our daily lives like commuting to the office, grabbing a coffee etc.
  4. That’s why ParticipACTION is campaigning to make physical activity a national priority for the Government of Canada. Helping us all become a more active and less sedentary population should not be seen as a burden or a cost but rather a powerful investment that can make everyone living in Canada mentally, physically and socially healthier.

  1. Combat the winter blues and Move for your Mood by following these tips to keep yourself active physically, mentally, and socially:
  2. Make it Social –Being active together with members of your household or friends is a great way to build and nurture bonds. And we can get active together virtually with others – like chatting on the phone while on a walk or participating in virtual exercise classes.
  3. Make it Sunny – Natural light has many mood benefits as well. Despite colder temperatures, it’s important to include some daytime outdoor physical activity. That can be something as simple as walking around the block, shovelling the driveway, or going for a hike.
  4. Make it Long-Term – To get ongoing mental health benefits from physical activity, it’s important to incorporate it into your daily life. The key is to choose physical activities you enjoy and that you will want to keep doing over time.

  • It’s important to note that lifestyle changes aren’t always sufficient to beat the winter blues or seasonal affective disorder, and you can always reach out for supports and services.

  1. CTA: Visit for information on how physical activity can support your mental health, ideas on how to get started, and how to tackle our national inactivity crisis!