Blue Monday is nearly upon us. Falling upon the third Monday of January (January 18th this year). Blue Monday is said to be saddest day of the year. The seasonal festivities are behind us, we’re tired of the cold dark winter weather, we’re doing our best to stick to our New Year’s Resolutions and we’re likely paying off our credit card bills.
Top that all off with the fact that we’ve just emerged from a particularly challenging year and now into a third national lockdown, it’s hardly surprising that many of us are feeling utterly fed up or even anxious or depressed.
That being said, there are many steps we can take to help us feel more positive and more energetic this Blue Monday. Here are some tips to get you started.
Get outside every day
One of the most effective ways to stay positive is to get outside, even if the weather isn’t great outside. By getting out into the fresh air and exposing your body to natural light, you’ll reduce your stress levels, boost your energy and generally feel much better.
If you can also get some exercise at the same time, you’ll get those endorphins flowing so why not go for a walk, a run, hop on your bike or even get involved in the latest trend for wild swimming? Check out the NHS Better Health website for more tips on staying active - https://www.nhs.uk/better-health/get-active/
Stay in touch with your friends
Studies show that being part of a community or social group can make a huge difference to your mental health, increasing levels of feel-good hormones such as oxytocin and dopamine. That’s why it’s so important that we make an effort to stay in touch with those we care about, even if we can only do it online or over the phone at the moment.
In an effort to counteract the ‘legend’ of Blue Monday, the Samaritans are running a campaign called ‘Brew Monday’ this 18th January 2021 which encourages us to reach out and enjoy a virtual cuppa with someone. Find out more about the campaign and how you can get involved on the Samaritans website.
Do something you enjoy every day
You can overcome the monotony of lockdown and winter-proof your mental health by finding time to do something you love every day.
This could be as simple as having a long hot bubble bath, reading a few chapters of your favourite book, going for a bike ride, or putting on your favourite music and dancing your socks off! If you’re stuck for inspiration you could even be brave and take up a brand-new hobby such as learning a new language, playing a musical instrument or even getting crafty.
By doing this, you’ll feel much happier and reduce your stress levels.
Avoid checking the news too often
It’s completely natural to want to stay up to date with the news, especially when so much is going on in the world. However, this habit can soon affect your mood, increase your anxiety levels and lead to overwhelm. That’s why experts recommend that you limit how often you check the news and aim to catch up with recent events just once per day, or even less if you suffer from anxiety.
This Blue Monday, aim to stay away from your phone, avoid watching the TV news bulletins and give yourself that psychological break from global events. You’ll feel much better.
Cleaning up your lifestyle will also make a huge difference to how you feel this winter, reducing your stress and anxiety levels, lifting your energy levels and also helping to strengthen your immune system so it can fight off seasonal illness.
Although many people don’t connect mental health to lifestyle habits, the two are closely related. According to The Mental Health Foundation, “Poor physical health can lead to an increased risk of developing mental health problems. Similarly, poor mental health can negatively impact on physical health, leading to an increased risk of some conditions.”
Here are some steps to consider:
Eat a healthier diet: include more fruits and veggies, healthy proteins and healthy fats and avoid highly processed foods.
Get plenty of sleep: most people need 6-8 hours per night
Stay active: you’ll feel better and improve your health too
Quit smoking and reduce your alcohol intake: you’ll boost your immune system and reduce your chances of developing a serious illness.
We’re a Healthy Living Pharmacy and can provide you with all the support you need to make the switch to healthier lifestyle habits. Speak to your local branch to find out more.
You don’t have to feel down in the dumps this Blue Monday. Follow our tips and get outside every day, take part in Brew Monday, clean up your lifestyle, do more of what you love and avoid the news. You’ll feel much more positive and find it easier to get through ‘the most depressing month of the year’.