Blue Monday: How to chemically alter your mood without getting arrested
If you are feeling a little gloomy today, it’s no wonder.
Blue Monday, which falls on the third Monday of January, is considered the ‘most depressing day of the year’.
The theory was devised by British psychologist Dr. Cliff Arnall 14 years ago, who used an equation factoring in debt, motivation levels and weather conditions, to work out the gloomiest day of the year.
Whether or not you buy into the Blue Monday theory, it is true many of us feel the toll of a low mood at this time of year, which is also known as seasonal affective disorder – effectively, a mood disorder which usually occurs in autumn or winter.
However, looking after yourself is the best place to start in tackling the problem – and through getting the right nutrition, you can actively boost feel-good chemicals in your brain, according to nutritionist Jenna Hope.
As hibernating under the duvet with your Netflix account just isn’t a viable option, we’ve rounded up a number of (totally legal) supplements and foods you can start taking to boost your mood this Blue Monday.
Now outselling vitamin C as the most popular supplement in the UK, getting enough vitamin D – also known as the “sunshine supplement” will help you feel your happiest.
“Vitamin D has been shown to play a key role in mood,” explains Jenna. “Research suggests that vitamin D receptors are found in areas of the brain which are also linked to depression.”
This means not getting enough brings an increased risk of depression, she explains – but, as the sun – the best source of vitamin D – is not strong enough during the UK’s wintertime, the government recommends people supplement.
Eat this: Vitamin D containing foods include salmon, milk and shitake mushrooms.
Take this: Lloyds Pharmacy Adult Vitamin D for Bone Health Tablets (£4.49 for 90 tablets, available here).
Also known as the “happy hormone”, serotonin is produced naturally in our bodies and plays a key role in mood. We can boost our intake through eating carbohydrates (win), and also through getting an amino acid called trytophan, explains Hope.
Eat this: Tryptophan is found in foods such as oats, chocolate, yoghurt, milk and turkey.
This amino acid is popularly taken in supplement form in order to help your body produce the “happy hormone”, serotonin.
Take this: Solgar 5-HTP Complex (£33.99 for 90 capsules, available here.)
“Dopamine is a feel good neurotransmitter which is involved in the reward stage of addiction,” explains Hope. Studies have found dopamine plays a key part in our experience of happiness.
Eat this: Foods containing tyrosine can help to boost your dopamine levels, explains Hope. These include chocolate, avocados, nuts and eggs.
“B-vitamins play a key role in the production of neurotransmitters involved in mood,” explains Hope. Being deficient of B12 vitamins, in particular, is linked to low mood and depression.
Eat this: Meat, fish and eggs are key sources of vitamin B12.
Take this: Solgar Vitamin B-Complex High Potency (£9.89 for 50 tablets, available here).
Believe it or not, your canned tuna could be the key to happiness – as omega-3 is “essential for improving mood and supporting brain health”, according to Hope.
Eat this: Omega-3 from animal sources such as oily fish is more bioavailable (meaning the body can absorb and utilise it better) than plant sources, Jenna explains.
Take this: Seven Seas Omega 3 Maximum Strength Capsules (£9.99 for 30, available here.)
Before you start taking supplements, be sure to discuss it with your GP or another medical professional, advises Hope. She says: “It’s important to seek professional advice before supplementing off your own accord as the dose is important as supplementing too much could cause toxicity. Again, supplements can interfere with any medications which you may already be taking.”
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