The dreaded Blue Monday is nearly upon us - the day that's known to be the most depressing day of the year, usually landing on the third Monday in January. This year, it's Monday 15th January.
But why is this particular Monday so blue?
After the Christmas festivities and merriment of December, January is usually associated with cold, bleak weather, a tightening of purse strings after the festive overspend, and healthy living after a period of overindulgence. For these reasons, January can sometimes feel like a long and difficult month to get through. These pressures are said to peak on Blue Monday and can spark feelings of depression, sadness and general low motivation.
What can we do to avoid it?
We spoke to Stephen Buckley, head of information at mental health charity Mind, to find out how we can overcome the January blues:
1. Physical activity
"Feeling low can reduce your desire to be physically active, especially as exercise is less appealing during winter months like January. While you may not feel like it, physical activity can be very effective in lifting your mood and increasing your energy levels," says Mr Buckley.
"Research shows that outdoor exercise, such as cycling or jogging, can be as effective as antidepressants in treating depression. If running in winter isn't for you, activities such as Zumba, dance classes and even trapeze classes have been shown to have many positive benefits for people's mental health. Lots of gyms have free trial passes and offers running throughout January.
"Mind's sports programme, Get Set to Go, can help people overcome the barriers of exercising, by choosing an activity which is suitable for them and enabling them to take the first step and get active to improve their physical and mental wellbeing."
2. Set a realistic resolution
"In terms of New Year's resolutions think about setting yourself a challenge which is achievable," the mental health expert explains. "This can be much more rewarding than putting on the pressure to complete a massive challenge, which might feel overwhelming."
So, if your resolution is applying too much pressure on your lifestyle, there's no shame in adjusting it slightly. Why not try one of these new year's resolution suggestions.
3. Get creative
"Creative activities are particularly therapeutic because they help you switch off from day-to-day pressures, turn negative thoughts or feelings into something positive, and give people the opportunity to socialise." says Mr Buckley.
"Whether it is card-making, knitting, crocheting, or bauble-making, crafting of all kinds can be good for our mental health. There has been a huge influx in adult colouring books in the last few years to help people with their wellbeing and mindfulness."
We recommend signing up to an evening class, after recent research has highlighted the benefits to both our physical and mental health. The University of Oxford study followed 135 adults and found that, after they had completed their seven-month courses (including craft, singing and creative writing), the adults felt more confident, motivated to be active and generally happier. Get more information on the study here.
4. Eat well
"As tempting as it is to reach for comfort foods to cheer you up, especially as the festive season has left us used to nibbling on chocolate, eating lots of foods high in fat and carbohydrate can often cause blood sugar levels to crash, resulting in sluggishness. This can potentially increase your anxiety levels," Mr Buckley explains.
"A healthy, balanced diet is as important for your mental health as your physical health, so it's best to include lots of fresh fruits and vegetables, as well as fatty oils such as omega-3 and 6. Try to avoid stimulants such as sugar, caffeine and alcohol. Some people find that taking extra vitamin B12 is helpful. A healthy balanced diet is also crucial for a good night's sleep, which is vital for your mental health."
5. Make the most of natural light
"January also means going back to work after a holiday period. Taking regular work breaks can help. This is perhaps more important in winter because people will often travel to work in darkness and then leave in darkness, so try to leave your desk and go for a short walk at lunchtime to get your much needed dose of light and fresh air."
6. Change your environment
"Another tip, which can help lift your mood, is thinking about making or changing something in your own environment. For example, re-painting your walls to a lighter colour or using one-way blinds which let the maximum amount of light in without being transparent for those outside," says Mr Buckley.
"While at work, perhaps you could consider moving desks to ensure you are near a window or away from a dark place. Little things like this can help you feel productive and lift your mood." If you work from home, follow our guide on how to make the perfect home office which will boost your productivity and creative flare.
If you are experiencing these symptoms, you might also find it helpful to talk to your GP. Mind has produced a guide on how to speak to your GP about mental health.
For more home interior inspiration, expert gardening advice and countryside news, sign up to our weekly newsletter below...
You Might Also Like