How are you feeling?

Full of vim and vigour for the New Year? Bouncing with energy and creative ideas?

Nah, me neither. It’s all rubbish, isn’t it? This time of year is generally recognised as being the toughest part of the calendar to wade through. The razzmatazz of Christmas is over, the weather is generally cold and rainy (in the UK at least), the bills are mounting up and it still isn’t payday. January seems to drag on forever. By the back end of the month, everything seems lacklustre and dreary.

Photo by Behnam Norouzi on Unsplash

Well, the good news is that I have come up with a solution. With a single masterstroke I have devised a plan which will cheer everyone up and resolve the January Blues forever. It’s very simple.

We move January round to the summer.

Roll straight from December into February. Who doesn’t love February? Short sweet little month bursting with the romantic, albeit slightly over-hyped, Valentine’s Day. Perfect.

And while we’re about it, I propose shortening December to 27 days too. Eliminate that non-productive wasteland between Christmas and New Year. 25th, 26th and 27th, Christmas Day, Boxing Day, New Year’s Eve. Bish, bash, bosh. No mucking about, just get on with it.

So, with December and February reduced to 55 days in total, that leaves 310 days to split between the remaining ten months. Fantastic! 31 days each. No more having to try to remember where the extra days go. And with November increased up to 31 days, that’s one more day to prepare for Christmas and there’s never enough time to do that is there? Plus January can now be slotted neatly in between, say, July and August, when we’ll all be much perkier and more energetic and able to tackle it head-on.

If I say so myself, it’s a brilliant plan. Not too late to implement it for 2023 either. The campaign starts here. Who’s with me?

Whilst we’re waiting for the inevitable head of steam to build though I guess we need to do what we can. And by all accounts, you could do worse than going for a swim.

In the early eighties, the January Blues phenomenon was recognised as a genuine illness that has become known as Seasonal Affective Disorder or SAD for short. Despite the rather trite nickname, SAD can be extremely debilitating for those who suffer from it with prolonged depressive interludes being the most common symptom.
The exact reasons for SAD are not universally agreed upon and, thus the same can be said for any treatments too. It would probably be crass to suggest that something as simple as swimming could be the cure for what is a serious mental disorder.

Photo by Motoki Tonn on Unsplash

Nevertheless, in 2018 Swim England commissioned a survey into the beneficial effects that swimming can have. It found that one in four people are likely to suffer from some sort of mental illness each year, a huge proportion of the population. Yet 1.4 million of those surveyed found that swimming regularly reduced symptoms of anxiety and/or depression and 497,000 reduced or stopped using medication for SAD if swimming regularly. Food for thought.

The reasons for these startling results are, as I say, not entirely clear. Some of it may be coincidental (although no less valid for all that). For example, SAD is commonly linked with the reduced daylight hours of winter. As swimming usually takes place in brightly lit pools or, even better, in the natural light outdoors, the benefits of improved lighting are inherent to the activity. It’s thought too that lowering the body temperature can also be a significant factor for treatment and outdoor swimmers in particular at this time of year know all about that! The focus and concentration required for swimming can also relieve the mind of negative and damaging thoughts which also may help some.

Of course, there are many other considerations to take into account when treating sufferers of SAD such as the importance of a good diet, proper amounts of rest and the avoidance of large quantities of alcohol plus the requirement for medical intervention in some cases. Mental wellbeing is, of course, a huge subject and one I can’t hope to give full justice to here. However for a treatment that is largely free and freely available and which has proven benefits swimming seems to have much to offer the mind as well as the body.

Meanwhile, I’m going to write to the appropriate authorities to get my calendar reconstruction campaign off the ground. If only I could work out what date to put on the letter…

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