Branded ‘the most depressing day of the year’, Blue Monday has come around once again.
But why is this particular Monday so ‘blue’? After the Christmas festivities, January is usually associated with cold, dark weather, a tightening of purse strings and healthy living after a (deserved) period of overindulgence.
It’s because of this that January can sometimes feel like a long and difficult month to get through. These pressures are said to ‘peak’ on Blue Monday and trigger feelings of low mood and low motivation.
However, we’re here to turn that around and help you avoid the Blue Monday myth altogether. That’s why we’ve come up with some easy ways you can add a sprinkling of positivity to boost your mood not just today, but any day.
WHAT IS BLUE MONDAY?
Blue Monday actually first surfaced in 2005 as part of a marketing ploy by British travel company, Sky Travel, who tried to convince their audience that the only way to overcome Blue Monday was to book a holiday. Somehow this ‘clever’ strategy has weaved its way into our common beliefs, when really there’s no real evidence to support it.
HOW TO BEAT BLUE MONDAY
We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again, exercising is a great way to lift your mood and increase your energy levels.
When you exercise, your body releases endorphins, also known as the brain’s ‘feel-good’ neurotransmitters. Research also shows that outdoor exercise in particular, including cycling or running, can be effective at treating low mood. But if running in the winter months doesn’t appeal to you, there are plenty of other activities that are shown to have many positive benefits for your mental health.
From training hard at the gym to opting for some gentle stretching in the studio, there are lots of ways to add physical activity into your everyday. It’s just a case of finding what’s right for you.
READ MORE: New Year, New Goals: Move Your Body
2. EAT WELL
We appreciate that constantly being reminded to ‘eat well’ can be a bit overwhelming, but the benefits of a balanced diet really can do wonders for your wellbeing.
As tempting as it is to reach for comfort foods to cheer you up - especially given the amount of chocolate we’ve been used to nibbling on over Christmas - eating lots of foods high in fat and carbohydrates can often cause blood sugar levels to crash, resulting in you feeling ‘sluggish’. This can potentially increase your anxiety levels.
Meanwhile, a diet rich in fruit and veg and healthy fats is just as important for your mental health, as it is your physical health. It’s like they say feeling good on the outside is all about feeling good on the inside.
3. MAKE THE MOST OF NATURAL LIGHT
January tends to be when most of us return to work or our studies, and this usually involves travelling to and from your place of work in the dark. That’s why it’s more important than ever to take regular breaks. Try to leave your desk and go for a short walk at lunchtime to get your much-needed dose of light and fresh air, as research shows that increased hours of sunlight heightens the brain's production of the mood-enhancing chemical, serotonin.
If you work from home, make sure you factor in time for regular lunch breaks and try to head outside to snap up some fresh air.
4. TAKE TIME FOR YOURSELF
This is something everyone should get on board with, Blue Monday or not!
Take time to do something nice for yourself - something that brings you happiness, positivity or comfort. This could be taking a long bath, reading on the sofa, hitting the gym, or even binge-watching your favourite TV show. On those days where you need a little pick-me-up, it’s important to do, and think about, positive and comforting things.
You could also create a list in your mind, or written down, of everything you’re grateful for and anything you have to look forward to in the months to come. January is the perfect time to schedule something with your friends or loved ones, and to focus on all the positivity this year may bring.
5. CATCH UP WITH LOVED ONES
Spending time with your favourite people is one of the few pleasures in life that can cost very little, but reward you significantly. Whether you enjoy a walk with friends or a video call with a relative, being around loved ones is a sure fire way to boost your mood this Blue Monday. Even arranging to see them in a few days’ time will lift your spirits by giving you something to look forward to. Other benefits include feeling less stressed, feeling more motivated and an increased sense of belonging and purpose.
If you’ve heard about ‘manifesting’ once, you’ve probably heard it a million times, but if you want to feel more empowered and successful in life, it might actually be worth your while. Whether you want to land your dream job, smash that new PB or simply achieve more inner-peace and confidence, manifesting could help make that happen.
But, firstly, what is it? Manifestation is the act of using your thoughts as a means of turning desire into a reality.
Simply by visualising what you want to achieve or where you want to be can help you become more optimistic about the future. On top of that, like compliments, manifestation can be used to uplift a person and shift their mindset to a more positive place. You’re also more likely to be less stressed and more grateful, which in turn can help you feel more positive while boosting your overall health.
This is by no means an exhaustive list of tips to boost your mood, but, hopefully, they will come in handy for those of you in search of a little pick-me-up.
Remember, it’s not enough to only take some time for yourself first thing in the morning or last thing at night. It’s important to keep taking care of yourself both mentally and physically throughout the day. Self care comes first, always.
If you’re experiencing symptoms of low mood, you might find it helpful to speak to your GP. UK mental health charity, Mind has produced a guide on how to speak to your GP about mental health.