‘Blue Monday’ is supposedly the most depressing day of the year. It falls on the third Monday in January when our debts are highest, our spare cash is lowest, and our New Year’s resolutions have fallen flat.
While the whole concept of ‘Blue Monday’ began as just a PR stunt to boost January travel industry sales, there is some truth to the matter that the post-Christmas and New Year comedown can be a harsh one for many.
The winter months leave many people experiencing significantly lower moods. The darker nights, shorter days and colder weather all take their toll.
It is not uncommon for many people to turn to comfort food, gain weight, and have less energy for exercise and hobbies. But turning to unhealthy habits will only cause extra stress and affect your health.
Here are some more positive actions you can take to beat the winter blues:
1. Get outside
While the idea of heading outside into the cold might not always be an appealing one, try to get as much daylight exposure as possible. Even if it is just for a short walk, spending time in the fresh air can help reduce symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), lower feelings of stress and anxiety and improve your mood. Remember to wrap up warm!
2. Eat smarter
The health of our gut microbiota plays a pivotal role in both immunity and mental health. You can take steps to improve your gut health by removing highly processed foods that cause inflammation, and instead focusing on eating whole, single-ingredient, unprocessed foods with a variety of nutrients and plenty of fibre.
When you exercise, your body releases endorphins – neurotransmitters that are released by the brain to help alleviate pain and promote feelings of pleasure. Therefore, when we walk, run, lift weights, or engage in some form of physical activity, it can help us feel less anxious and less stressed.
In addition to increased energy, physically active people also feel a sense of accomplishment in meeting personal fitness goals and the corresponding improvements to their physical appearance.
4. Get some quality sleep
A sleepless night has a profound effect on your mood and day-to-day functioning. Sleep deprivation leaves us irritable, short-tempered, and more vulnerable to stress.
Taking adequate steps to ensure quality sleep will dramatically improve your mood and well-being.
Sleep is all about rhythm and routine, so as soon as you can find a consistent schedule to relax and achieve sleep, this is key when building a better sleep regime.
There are lots of options in sleep routine building. What works for you may not work for someone else, but popular solutions tend to include:
- Taking a hot bath
- Reading a printed fiction book
- Listening to music
- Spending time with family
- As soon as you find something that works, whatever it may be for you, the more consistently you adhere to it, the more the benefits will increase over time.
Alongside this, try to avoid blue light from laptops and phones close to bedtime, keep your bedroom at a comfortable temperature, and block out any external noise.
Taking steps to care for all aspects of your emotional health will help you manage your mood including, stress and anxiety.
Putting aside some time each day to focus on yourself and your own needs will benefit your mood. Whether it is meditation, yoga or reading, find something that helps you relieve some stress.
6. Get a dose of vitamin D
A lack of vitamin D can influence many health conditions, including depression. The winter months can affect your vitamin D levels due to reduced sunlight exposure. Aside from ensuring your diet is rich in vitamin D sources such as eggs or fatty fish, a good quality supplement might be beneficial to plug any nutritional gaps.
There you have it! A handful of ways to actively do something about the impending ‘Blue Monday’ doom. And if you do not feel like doing much on the day itself, remember it is just one day. Try not to attach too much emotion to it and instead focus on the days ahead.