Let's face it, January can be pretty bleak. The festive season is well and truly behind us, we're back at work between paydays, the weather is miserable and summer holidays are still a speck on the horizons.
We've even coined a name for what is supposedly the most depressing day of the year, Blue Monday, which fell on January 21 this year.
But wallowing in misery isn't going to help anyone. So go ahead, spend one day in bed eating leftover Christmas chocolates and binge-watching your favourite Netflix show.
But when that's over with, read these simple and easy ways you can feel cheery during these cold winter months:
1. Try a free yoga session
First Light's new yoga studio in Westfield London is offering three free yoga sessions on Blue Monday starting at 7:30am, 12:30pm and 6:30pm respectively. To book your class, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
2. Catch up on some good news
The world can often seem a bit doom and gloom, so take time out of your day to catch up on the good things that are happening around the globe. Like the fact that the Jellyfish lake in Palau has re-opened to visitors or instead of the usual health kick, January has sparked a no-diet movement encouranging people to drop the fad diet and lead healthy lifestyles.
3. Book a trip away
It doesn’t have to be expensive and it doesn’t have to be for long. Whether it be a ski break to St. Moritz or a summer trip island hopping through Tahiti, booking a holiday will give you something to look forward to. EasyJet and Jet2 even have Blue Monday sales to help pique your wanderlust.
4. Go for a run
While running can seem daunting to newbies, it can relieve stress, make you happy and increase your concentration span. If running isn’t your thing, grab a friend and go for a walk. Exercise is always better when there’s gossip involved.
5. Watch a movie
Movies are a great form of escapism and this month Cineworld are offering their unlimited membership for £7.90 instead of the usual £17.90 for your first month of memership. This means you can watch unlimited films at Cineworld cinemas for just £7.90 and receive exclusive access to advance movie screenings. Use the code BLUEMONTHLY for a monthly membership or BLUEANNUAL for an annual membership. You can sign up here.
6. Indulge in free vegan food
This Blue Monday,Hellmann’s and Biff’s Jack Shack have partnered to offer free vegan food to Londoners from their Boxpark Shoreditch outpost. When ordering The Biff & Chip Butty, customers can use the codeword 'Veganuary' and they'll receive a free side of fries. What's more is they're knocking off £2 for Evening Standard readers so The Biff & Chip Butty will go from £9.50 to £7.50. This offer is valid from January 14 to 27.
7. Treat yourself to a meal out
Food is soul-healing, so make the most of the Blue Monday offers available around the capital and have a meal out with your closest pals. Retsuarant booking site, OpenTable have a slew of offers available like a two-course meal at a number of Hawsmoor's, 30 per cent off at Marylebone favourite Bernadi's and two courses for two people for just £30 at selected Gordon Ramsay restaurants among others.
8. Go outside during your lunch break
London workers often don’t see daylight during the week in winter because we’re inside an office building all day. Vitamin D, the mineral produced in your skin in response to sunlight, is proven to help fight desease, depression and help boost weight loss. So take your lunch break and go sit in a near-by park (47 per cent of London is green space so there’s bound to be some nature nearby). Take a book, a hot drink and a thick scarf and sit and embrace the occasional sunlight.
9. Cook yourself a nourishing meal
In London, there are so many fantastic places to eat out but sometimes the best meal can be one you cooked yourself. Buy your ingredients ahead of time so you can go home and cook yourself dinner – be it fancy or simple and delicious. You’ll feel a sense of accomplishment and cooking can also be a good form of stress relief.
10. Go to bed at a reasonable hour
Research shows time and time again that sleep is one of the most beneficial things for our health. It’s amazing just how much sleep can impact our days and with the right amount of sleep you will find yourself to be more alert and with more energy. So come 9pm, switch your phone to flight mode, pick up a good book and shut out the world until morning. If you're in need of a better pillow, Nanu - a pillow you can personalise - is offering 20 per cent off for 24 hours on Blue Monday, taking the price down from £30 to £24.
11. Get yourself a free Açaí bowl for lunch
Sambazon are offering free Açaí bowls at three Whole Foods Market branches across London on Monday. Simply quote Purple Monday to the Sambazon staff between 12:30pm and 2:30pm to receive your free lunch.
12. Pour yourself a glass of wine
Yes, it may be Dry January but for those not participating, treat yourself to a glass of wine with dinner. London-based start-up Pull the Cork are a specialist organic and natural wine online retailer selling a number of vegan and sulphite-free wines. On Monday they have a 7 per cent discount running across the site when you use the code ORG4N1C at the checkout.
13. Wear a floral scent
If you’re after some instant happiness, then spritz yourself with a floral-scented perfume. A study conducted by Jeannette Haviland-Jones of Rutgers University found that those in a florally scented room used three times as many happiness-related words when they were asked to write about three life events, than those in a room filled with classic fragrances. So there you go, florals equal happiness.
14. Speak to someone you love
If you live in a different town or city from a beloved family member or friend, pick up the phone and give them a call. Speaking to people we love is a guaranteed way to boost our happiness levels.