LONDON — The average person spends three months a year — sitting in sadness, a new poll reveals. A survey of 2,000 British adults finds the average respondent is in a glum mood 96 days a year — or eight days each month. It turns out the new year doesn’t start on a good note, with a quarter feeling at their lowest during January.
Top winter gloom-inducers include the weather, shorter days with dark mornings and evenings, and simply feeling cold. Following the findings, a mood-boosting billboard was unveiled in the U.K., which dispenses white light therapy to help banish the January blues. The giant advertisement, in the shape of a doughnut box, beams out white light that can help banish SAD — Seasonal Affective Disorder.
“We’ve just had Blue Monday, often referred to as the most depressing day of the year, making this week arguably one of the toughest,” says Emma Colquhoun, spokesperson for Krispy Kreme, which commissioned the research and created the installation, in a statement. “And the study indicates we’re not far wrong. From the national average of nine low moods in January, we hope today won’t be one.”
“Opening a box of doughnuts is one way to bring joy into people’s lives – so we wanted to make that literal,” Colquhoun adds. “This is the only doughnut box in the world to deliver light therapy that can help banish Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD).”
Many people sit in darkness all winter
The survey also reveals that the first month of the year is when people most feel the need for an injection of joy. Spending time with friends and family is the top way people combat January blues, followed by listening to music, relaxing, and going outdoors.
However, the average person spends just under an hour a day outdoors in winter and estimates only 44 minutes of that is in direct sunlight. One in five only get between one and 15 minutes a day under the winter sun’s rays.
The poll also finds that the average Brit doesn’t go outside for a bit of winter daylight for nearly three days a week. The study, conducted via OnePoll, also revealed 21 percent keep their curtains closed during the day to keep the heat in, despite the fact they’re keeping the sunshine out.
Nevertheless, 52 percent try to make a conscious effort to get outdoors because they acknowledge it improves their mood, with 56 percent believing direct sunlight to be the best way to combat low mood. Another 32 percent have considered seeking more sunlight by moving abroad because of the gloomy British weather.
There’s light at the end of the tunnel
The survey notes 14 percent have been told they have Seasonal Affective Disorder, with another 28 percent believing they suffer from the condition. The doughnut installation provides 10,000 lux of white light, which is the recommended amount to create ambient daylight.
“Bright light, especially in the morning, can help boost your mood in three naturally powerful ways by helping the brain to regulate mood hormones, supporting alertness and making it easier to fall asleep,” says Dr. Shelley James, director at Age of Light Innovations. “SAD lamps work because they can supplement natural light to give our brains the brightness they need to rise and shine.”
“Getting outside into natural daylight can top up your mood-boosting system when the sun just isn’t breaking through as well as giving you a chance to get a little exercise. Bright light at the right time can even help you sleep better too.”
“We’re really hoping to brighten the day of anyone walking past our SADvert today,” Colquhoun adds. “Daylight and Doughnuts? It’s a joyful combination we’re happy to share.”
Top 10 Mood-Lifting Activities
- Spending time with friends and family
- Listening to music
- Resting and relaxing
- Going outdoors
- Treating myself
- Entertainment (Film, TV, podcasts and video games)
- Reading a book or listening to an audio book
- Spending time in nature
- Indulging in food I enjoy
Report by 72Point writer Vicky Duncan