London is suffering from a collective post-holiday comedown, and we’re all snotty, skint and sun-deprived, and spring is months away.
We've already survived Blue Monday, supposedly the gloomiest day of the year, so theoretically it can only get better from here.
Here's a shocker - hibernating with a mug of tea will only lengthen the misery. The best way to beat the blues is to pull your socks up and chase a natural high. This is your guide:
The sunrise spin
“Doing cardio in the morning improves your energy, appetite and mood for the whole day,” says Rhian Stephenson, former Canadian national athlete and CEO of Psycle London. The spinning studio kicks off its weekday Ride classes with a high-intensity 45-minute workout at 6.30am — the perfect morning boost before a day spent sitting at a screen.
It’s all about endorphins, says Stephenson. “The chemicals your body releases with cardio are both stimulating and relaxing, so it counters depression, dissipates stress and improves concentration and focus all at once.”
It’s a magic wake-up formula: Digme runs spinning classes inside Blackfriars station for commuters on the go, and FirstLight Cycle at Westfield in White City wakes riders up using natural light and a 30ft digital mirror that transports you to sunny Ibiza — the ultimate antidote to dark January mornings.
The lunchtime run
A slow wander to Pret won’t cut it: to really get the endorphins going during the working day, put your trainers on, even if it’s for a quick 15-minute dash through Hyde Park between meetings. “It’s a great way to recharge the batteries and return feeling refreshed,” confirms international runner Sophie Harris, who takes a break from her desk most days for a quick jog through Westminster or around Battersea Park.
“When you run, your body takes your brain along for the ride,” says author Bella Mackie, who recently revealed that running helps to keep
her anxiety in check. “You’re concentrating on the burn in your legs, the swing of your arms. Once you’re in a rhythm, you start to notice obstacles in your way, or people to avoid. You see details on buildings you’d never noticed before.” It’s a way to fall back in love with London, too.
The lido life
“There isn’t a problem that can’t be solved while head-up breaststroking through freezing-cold water,” explains Katie Kenny, who swears by her twice- weekly morning dip at Tooting Bec Lido with swimming partner Manda Read.
At the moment, the pair only manage about 200 yards of breaststroke but they say the feeling afterwards is “euphoric”. “As the sun rises, swimming through the blue sparkling water makes you buzz with joy,” says Read, admitting she struggles from winter blues on the days she can’t fit in a dip.
But hitting the sweet spot takes acclimatisation, she warns: gradually increase your time in the water as your body adapts, change quickly afterwards and don’t be tempted by a hot shower: “It’ll make you feel colder in the long run.”
“There’s no better stress relief than hitting a bag and taking out your day on it,” says Ian Streetz at Kobox. The key is its intensity, he adds: “It gets the heart pumping, endorphins flowing and the mind focused.” Third Space is launching a high-energy workout called Yard WOD at its Canary Wharf studio, and Gymbox’s Anger Management gets you hitting a target with a baseball bat — pretend it’s your boss.
Yoga is about becoming aware of your breath — just the tonic before bedtime, says yoga instructor Immy May. Frame runs weekday Yin Yoga sessions until 9.40pm, and MoreYoga has launched a series of Late Night Lock Ins from 7pm to 9.30pm — the first is on February 1. Get in practice at home, May suggests. “It’s become a ritual to roll out my mat, light candles, find a chilled playlist and just move. That’s all yoga is: moving your body and allowing your mind to simmer down.” Crucially, this means “no scrolling, Netflix or email checking”.