surviving Blue Monday in the Netherlands

This has been the 7th winter for me in the Netherlands and I think I finally found the way to survive it without planning to move somewhere south.

It’s in this country that I heard of the Blue Monday and to my surprise it applied perfectly to what I was feeling at the end of January.
I did some research and discovered that it is calculated to be the saddest day of the year and the fact that there was a formula to prove it made it both ridiculous, but also quite fascinating.

Usually the third Monday of January results the saddest day of the year as a result of different factors: weather conditions, debt level (the difference between debt accumulated and our ability to pay), time since Christmas, time since failing our new year’s resolutions, low motivational levels and feeling of a need to take action.

I am sensitive to all these conditions and indeed ended up quite miserable by the end of January.


There are obviously some factors that can’t be changed, but I have figured out that there are three things I could do to help myself out of the depression zone:

  1. Vitamin D
    Many people were speaking about taking some vitamin D supplements and for a couple of years I simply snubbed thinking I was above the problem. It turned out I was wrong. I never tested my vitamin D levels, just started taking the vitamins and I have never felt better entering winter.
    Of course it takes some time to feel the effect, so it won’t cover you for this winter, but it’s always a good time to prepare yourself for the next one.
  2. Brighten up
    I am extremely sensitive to day light, my productivity is not necessarily higher during the day, but I surely need a bright start to get my body started. Coming from Italy, at different latitude and with a different climate, winter here feels horribly dark.
    I studied about it and I found out that there are lamps that simulate the sun light and help your body and mind go in the right mood.
    I bought two of them.
    My priority was to buy something that would make me feel less miserable in the morning so I bought one that works as an alarm clock as well and creates a glow in preparation for the alarm to go off. In this way I can wake up in a room that is already bright.
    Once I saw that this one was working its magic I decided to buy a second one that is much more powerful and is meant to just recharge you. It looks like a tablet, but just produces a strong light and if you stay close to it for 20 minutes it should bring your brain to the right level of energy. It’s not a tanning lamp or anything like that, just a strong source of light that triggers your brain to start functioning.
  3. Plan an escape
    Dutch winters are not particularly severe, but they are very long and for this reason I learnt to plan an escape before summer comes. Waiting till the summer vacations is simply exhausting and planning a trip in the first part of the year has always given me a positive atmosphere and something to look forward to.


I wish I hadn’t waited so many winters to find improvements for it. I know it made me feel a bit better to think that so many other people were going through the same thing, but I am glad that I put an effort and stopped just coping with it and started enjoying winter’s cosy side instead.



originally written for Rotterdammer Girls