UBC Okanagan associate professor of psychology Mark Holder studies positive psychology and the science of happiness.

Tips to beat this bluest of Mondays

UBC Okanagan’s ‘happiness professor’ shares tips to get through the post-holiday slump.

UBC Okanagan’s ‘happiness professor’ is sharing some industry secrets to get through 2017’s ‘Blue Monday’.

Blue Monday is the third Monday of January, a post-holiday slump period, which is popularly referred to as the most depressing day of the year.

Created as part of a marketing campaign by Sky Travel in 2005, the date was calculated using a number of factors, including gloomy weather conditions, debt, time since Christmas, time since failing New Year’s resolutions and low motivational levels.

Given this gloomiest of days, one UBC professor sent out some tips tips to give you all a little pick-me up!

While Holder reminds us all there is no one-size fits all recipe, here are his top seven tips on evidence-based ways to increase your well-being;


  1. Nurture your social relationships. Happy people make their relationships a priority, and not just the kind that are one-sided and only benefit them. They believe in mutually-beneficial relationships, and work hard to ensure that they build and nurture not only existing relationships, but new ones as well. According to Holder, “It is almost impossible to find a happy person who does not have meaningful personal friendships and romantic relationships.”
  2. Enjoy mindful experiences in nature. Spending time in nature is good for the body and mind. Whether it’s running at sunset, walking alongside a cool trickling stream, or even hearing the wind blow through the trees in the morning, being outdoors and aware of the world’s beauty can make you feel energized and alive.Happy people may not spend more time in nature, but they are more aware and appreciative of their time in nature,” says Holder.
  3. Exercise. When you work out and stay active on a regular basis, it’s not just a coincidence that you feel less stressed out, less anxious, and generally happier. The benefits of exercise on our physical health are often promoted, but exercise has very positive effects on our mental health, too. “Exercise increases happiness – usually more than we anticipate,” says Holder.
  4. Pursue and attain goals that help other people. When we help others, we can also help ourselves. Giving connects us to others, creating stronger communities and helping to build a happier society. Whether small, unplanned acts or regular volunteering, helping others and being kind is a powerful way to boost our own happiness as well as the happiness of those around us.
  5. Feel and express gratitude. Feeling grateful is good for you. Holder encourages us to practice being grateful for people, things and events in the different domains of life. Studies have shown that performing simple gratitude exercises, like keeping a gratitude diary or writing letters of thanks, can bring a range of benefits, such as feelings of increased well-being and reduced depression, that often linger well after the exercises are finished.
  6. Limit social media usage. Canadians may be watching less TV, but they are more than making up for it with being plugged in to other devices. We spend, on average, about 54 hours a week connected to the e-world. But research questions the wisdom of this. Studies have shown that more Facebook friends are linked to less happiness. And when people have a conversation while sitting around a table, they rate the quality of their social interaction as lower when there is a phone (compared to a notebook) on the table. This is true even when the phone is turned off. We need to use our smart phones smartly – and this may mean using them less by leaving them at home at times and focusing on the people we are with.
  7. Nurture your spirituality. People who identify as being more spiritual are happier. This is true even for children. But spirituality is not the same as religiosity. A person can be highly spiritual but not necessarily religious. Increased spirituality is associated with greater well-being across continents and cultures but the association between religion and happiness is inconsistent and less clear.


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