In 2005, Dr. Cliff Arnall came up with a formula that would predict the gloomiest day of the year. The factors included in his formula were weather, debt, time since Christmas, and motivation. As a result of Arnall’s calculations, the third Monday of January, the “Blue Monday”, was labelled as the most depressing day of the year. There are a number of things that contribute to the negative connotation of this day: the holiday season is behind us, bank accounts are exhausted, and we are yet again looking at another long year ahead with the next holiday season a dot on the horizon.
January can be a challenging time for safety, too. Tiredness, lack of sunlight and low motivation can expose workers to different risks and negligence, not to mention the safety risks posed by icy conditions – the East Coast of North America is currently coming out of the other side of what has been deemed a "bomb cyclone," which brought with it record low temperatures to much of US and Canada and even snow in Florida. Such extreme conditions in areas not experienced in dealing with this kind of weather is a risky situation.
Nonetheless, this year we decided to skip the January blues, and instead of dwelling on negative thoughts we focused on the reasons we should keep being positive. Our innovative team has come up with 7 things to be cheerful about this Blue Monday – which do you relate to best?
1. Spring is ahead
One thing that can help many of us get through the end of winter is knowing that spring is afoot. Christmas is a kind of a benchmark for the long, dark autumn, and knowing that the winter has only just begun can make you feel low. In January, however, we’re much closer to the spring and the days get longer every week.
2. Sunny weather and fresh, crispy air
When temperatures are close to or sub- zero, the air becomes fresh and crisp. It’s a totally different feeling to walk outside and feel the fresh air on your face. There’s also not much use for an umbrella, which at least here in Scotland is a rare event. Nevertheless, the cold weather brings health risks with it, so it’s important to be well equipped.
Let’s not also forget that January tends to be a fairly sunny month. After the winter solstice (December 21, 2017), we can finally enjoy more hours of sunshine and absorb some oh-so-missed Vitamin D. Sunshine has been proven to be vital for our mental health: getting enough sunlight helps keep our level of emotional distress stable. However, you can still burn in the January sun – don’t forget to wear sunscreen!
3. No allergies
During the dry and cold winter weather there’s less pollen floating around, bringing a temporary relief to those with strong allergy symptoms such as congestion, itchy eyes and a running nose. The ability to spend more time outdoors uninterrupted by the allergies of summer can help you keep up the energy levels and maintain a more active and healthy lifestyle. So, our advice is: Get your jacket on and enjoy the pollen-free air! (Unless there is a bomb cyclone outside.)
4. Feeling the warmth of indoors after braving the cold
We feel that one of the most enjoyable things about the cold weather of January is the feeling of entering the warm indoors. Taking off all those layers and enjoying a warm drink under a blanket is one of the best perks of the season (not to mention the comfortable and “stylish” slippers we get to wear.)
5. Many favorite TV shows return
One of the most popular indoor activities of the season is binge-watching TV programs. Streaming services like Netflix and HBO give the ability to watch an episode at any time or even complete a season in one sitting, creating a whole new meaning for the word “binge-watching.” However, most TV shows, even those on Netflix, go on hiatus during the Christmas period, finishing the last episode of the year with a mind teasing cliff hanger. Hence, our fourth reason to be cheerful this January is the return of our favorite TV shows! Get those (healthy?) new year snacks out and enjoy Blue Planet II (US), The Flash, How To Get Away With Murder, The Walking Dead, The Voice, and many other midseason premieres!
6. No need to mow the lawn
Believe it or not, the list continues. A particularly time-consuming and unenviable task for many of us is mowing the lawn. Taking care of the garden and fixing the jammed lawnmower might not be everyone’s favorite way to spend the afternoon. Fortunately, there’s no need for that this month, as the grass is likely wet with dew or frost which can cause lasting damage when mowed. Having a great excuse to avoid this chore is another good reason to be cheerful in January!
7. Animals (and humans, of course) can go sledging
This one is definitely the odd one out of this list, but it sure did cheer up our day in the office. We found out that animals have become so smart that they’ve even begun to sledge on their own. They seem to enjoy it as much as we do! Another winter sport ideal for this time of year is skiing. We couldn’t find any videos of skiing animals, but that doesn’t mean it’s impossible!
We shouldn’t forget that sledging and skiing can cause injury – this raises an interesting question: is there a new market for safety solutions for animals? You heard it here first. Here are two videos of animals enjoying the snow that we’re sure will lift your mood:
Dog sledging on a hill
Clik here to see the video
Crowboarding: Russian roof-surfin' bird caught on tape
There is another reason, this time statistically proven, for EHS professionals to be cheerful this January. The Injury Rate per 10,000 FTEs (full time equivalents) is less in the winter months than in the summer. In fact, June, July and September are the most dangerous months for workers. The following calculations, based on the information provided by the Bureau of Labor Statistics verify this: the average Injury Rate Index for the period of October – March or what we would call fall and winter is 0.96, in contrast to the average for April – September, spring and summer, being 1.05. This means that the average Injuries per Day from October to March is 2,877.2 whilst the average for April to September is 3,197.9.
So, although we can’t bring forward the holidays or win you the lottery, we hope that this post has given you inspiration and reminded you of some of the reasons you should be cheerful this January. What are you grateful for that we have missed out? Let me and other readers know in the comments!