Janet Street-Porter: Beating the winter blues? Its easy-peasy

Beating the winter blues It’s easy-peasy

Today has been dubbed ‘Blue Monday’ — the most miserable day of the year and the perfect moment to publish a report identifying what makes us happy.

Yes, happiness, that elusive state of mind that Dave Cameron is spending two million quid of our lolly trying to quantify, even though three quarters of us have already told official pollsters we’re OK, thanks.

Dave’s still insisting we complete
questionnaires to help create policies designed to make our lives more
‘worthwhile’. Today’s report by the Institute of Economic affairs think
tank, based on data gathered from 126 countries, seems to indicate that
one simple thing makes people feel better — more money — sadly, the one
thing our PM can’t deliver.

The winter blues: Today is apparently the most miserable day of the year

The winter blues: Today is apparently the most miserable day of the year

The happiness industry is certainly enriching the lives of one group — the academics, psychologists and experts who come up with this bilge.

Blue Monday was invented by a travel company several years ago to flog more holidays. They asked a tame academic to come up with a dodgy equation linking weather, debt, time since Christmas and number of days since failing to keep our New Year’s Resolutions. It looked bloody impressive, like something Einstein would have written on a blackboard.

Science writer Ben Goldacre totally debunked the Blue Monday myth, but it lives on in cyberspace and is regularly used as fact to flog everything from vitamin pills to self-help manuals and summer breaks. Log on to wellbeing websites (from the Mental Health Foundation to Action for Happiness) and discover all sorts of ludicrous helpful hints about how to ‘cope’ with Monday, January 16.

Before we go any further, reflect on one cast-iron certainty — that any guidelines proposed by health professionals stand little chance of success.

Take the costly ‘Five a Day’ campaign, backed up with costly advertising and media campaigns. Last week, an EU study ranked the UK 14 out of 19 countries when it comes to eating fruit and vegetables. Only Iceland, Sweden, the Czech Republic and Finland consumed less, and we’re renowned for producing spuds, apples and gorgeous strawberries!

In spite of the Government recommending healthy levels of consumption, we are now ranked amongst the biggest boozers in Europe.

All this seems to indicate that any initiatives stemming from Dave’s costly happiness survey are equally doomed to failure.

Here are some of the ways the mental health professionals suggest you get through Blue Monday, with the easy-peasy JSP alternatives . . .

SET YOURSELF REALISTIC GOALS

More from Janet Street Porter…

JANET STREET-PORTER: Memo to women MPs: you can’t be a clothes horse AND a feminist!
09/01/12

JANET STREET-PORTER: Bisto, booze and my secrets to happiness this Christmas
18/12/11

The sheer lunacy of women refusing to look their age

16/12/11

JANET STREET-PORTER: The mouse that ate the High Street
11/12/11

JANET STREET-PORTER: It's time for us oldies to take a stand!
04/12/11

BEHIND THE SCENES ON I'M A CELEBRITY: Who cares about the celebs I'm having a scream in the jungle
20/11/11

Working from home sends you bonkers (and I should know)
14/11/11

JANET STREET PORTER: The women who are letting the rest of us down

06/11/11

VIEW FULL ARCHIVE

Do absolutely nothing, then there’s
no chance of failing. Do not plan on losing a stone or meeting Mr Right.
Even gym buff Madonna admitted to Graham Norton she’s still waiting for
the right chap to come along.

GET PROFESSIONAL HELP

The happiness experts want you to pay
one of them to sit and listen. A good moan on the phone to a mate works
just as well. Even better, pick up the phone and talk to the dialing
tone, it can’t answer back. Write a long email listing all that’s
annoying you, and send it back to yourself. You’ll be amazed how stupid
it sounds next day, and you’ve saved money on counselling or lifestyle
gurus.

EXERCISE

I put on an excellent new CD by Ry
Cooder, and tapped my feet whilst writing this column. Multi-tasking and
a seated workout. Open the freezer, take everything out, and then
replace it tidily. Better than any session with weights.

EAT WELL

Were Andrew Lansley and NHS Fat
Police behind the recent study linking eating sausages with cancer Call
me a conspiracy theorist but I suspect it was a plot to make us eat
less of our favourite comfort foods. January is not the time to deny
anything that gives pleasure. /01/15/article-2087124-0F73416B00000578-117_468x324.jpg” width=”468″ height=”324″ alt=”Don't bother spreading happiness: Janet Street-Porter points out that the tactic hasn't worked for Michelle Obama” class=”blkBorder” />

Don't bother spreading happiness: Janet Street-Porter points out that the tactic hasn't worked for Michelle Obama

SPREAD HAPPINESS

Overrated. Look at well-meaning
Michelle Obama, she’s spent the past year or so trying to get Americans
to grow their own veg, work out and be more fulfilled, and what’s her
reward A new book claims the U.S. First Lady is ‘full of anger’. She’s
worn chain store clothes and smiled at every opportunity — but you can’t
please everyone. What’s wrong with being grumpy

JOIN AN ACTIVITY GROUP

. . . but not the kind favoured by
Dominique Strauss-Kahn the disgraced former chief of the International
Monetary Fund. DSK admitted to French police that he took part in
orgies, but claims he didn’t know if the women were prostitutes because
they were all naked! Best to avoid any clubs that involve nudity, then
there’s no chance of running into the repulsive DSK.

BE SOCIABLE

This is full of pitfalls. Take the
recent sorry saga of Sinead O’Connor. She met a nice young chap after
placing an ad on the internet. After a brief courtship, she married for
the fourth time in Last Vegas five weeks ago.

A few days later it was on the rocks,
and although things were temporarily patched up, she’s now alone in
Ireland. I did exactly the same during my mid-life crisis, signing up
for a late night quickie marriage to a younger bloke in Las Vegas.
Disaster. Why didn’t Sinead call Auntie Janet first

The New Girl is pretty frugal

Channel 4 hope their latest
Friday night import, New Girl, will attract the same devoted following
as the much-lamented Friends. The show has been a huge hit in the U.S.,
and early reviews here are kind.

The premise is eerily familiar — kooky girl splits with boyfriend and moves in with three twentysomething chaps.

Money-saver: Zooey Deschanel, star of New Girl, has been admired in the States for her no-nonsense approach to money

Money-saver: Zooey Deschanel, star of New Girl, has been admired in the States for her no-nonsense approach to money

The star, Zooey Deschanel,
has been admired in the States for her no-nonsense approach to money. In
spite of earning around 62,000 a month, she spends just a quarter on
her living expenses, staying in a basic house in Hollywood (without a
pool) and wears mostly second-hand clothes. She’s been dubbed a member
of the ‘frugalocracy’ — high earners who spend little and put money
aside for the future.

Our own Carey Mulligan, when filming
in Los Angeles, stayed in a budget hotel. And Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg
dresses like a tramp. But can you see Katie Price joining the
frugalocracy Mind you, most of us would find it easy to save on
62,000 a month.

Give this mum a red-carpeting

Madonna did one thing right last
week, refusing to pose with a baby at the premiere of her new film WE —
what on earth is Donna Sercombe doing taking her tot to 60 film
premieres in a year

Strike a pose: Celebrity Baby Tyler Sercombe's trademark pink all-in-one coat... with George Clooney

Strike a pose: Celebrity Baby Tyler Sercombe's trademark pink all-in-one coat… with George Clooney

For fans, attending one of these
over-hyped events usually means standing in windy Leicester Square for
hours on end, in freezing winds and drizzle. It is about the most
unattractive open space in London with no facilities to make that wait
for a fleeting glimpse of someone famous bearable. Surely baby Tyler, would be happier playing at home

Of course, few stars refused to be
photographed with the baby, correctly deducing it would be publicity
poison. Only Madge had the guts to walk past this publicity-seeking mum —
and she’s the mother of four who refuses to let her children watch TV
and has banned sugar at home. Donna’s motives seem rather confused.

Dumbed down: Why does distinguished classical actress Harriet Walter need to adopt a corny working class accent

Dumbed down: Why does distinguished classical actress Harriet Walter need to adopt a corny working class accent

High-tech caps covered with
electrodes monitoring our brain responses are the latest gizmos used by
marketing experts to devise ads that will produce a positive response.

Harnessing neuro-science as a marketing tool has attracted big brands from Microsoft to Citigroup.

What a shame television bosses aren’t
using the technique to measure our responses to prime-time drivel such
as the BBC’s Hustle and ITV’s Law & Order UK — how can Friday nights
on the main channels be so pedestrian

On ITV Bradley Walsh seems to
preface every line of dialogue with ‘right lads, in you go’ and why does
distinguished classical actress Harriet Walter need to adopt
such a corny working class accent to appear in the same show More
Borgen, please!