Labelled “Blue Monday”, the third Monday of every January (this year falling on Monday 18th January) is perceived to be the most depressing day of the year. Spoiler alert – it isn’t!
The concept of “Blue Monday” was first introduced in 2004, when a travel company asked a psychologist to come up with a “scientific formula” for the January blues. The outcome of which included things such as weather, debt, time since Christmas, time since failing New Year's resolutions, low motivational levels and the feeling of a need to take action.
The “science” behind the formula has been much criticised. We can feel down at any time of year, there isn’t one particular day which is worse for all of us – that is a little ludicrous!
However, January can often be a difficult month for many due to the festive period ending, having to anticipate what work and life are going to be like, and the often cold, grey weather tends to reflect in our mood. To combat a miserable mood, you can set yourself up for your day through your day with positivity, strength and knowing how to stay calm.
If you’re suffering this month or you find yourself in need of a mood boost then here are 8 top tips on how to improve your mood.
Get some exercise
Getting and staying active can reduce your risk of developing many illnesses, but can also be a great mood booster and stress buster.
Try and fit in 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity every week. One way to achieve this target is by doing 30 minutes of activity 5 days a week. Fit it in where you can such as getting off the bus one stop early or walking to the shops rather than driving. Even moderate exercise (such as walking) releases endorphins which are known to boost your mood.
Regular exercise can also give you more energy, which can counteract any feelings of lacking motivation. If you’re struggling to find the motivation to start exercising, then read our guide on how to start getting active.
Eating a diet that’s full of processed foods or high in fat can harm your mental health and not just your digestive system!
What you eat is closely linked to your health. Balanced nutrition has many benefits. By making healthier food choices, you can prevent or treat some conditions. These include heart disease, stroke, and diabetes. Additionally foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids and whole grains have both been linked to improving mood and lowering your risk of depression.
Get enough sleep
To wake up feeling refreshed and rejuvenated, it’s important to get enough sleep. Around 7 to 8 hours is recommended for adults, but this must be good quality sleep to reap the benefits.
If you’re suffering from insomnia and feeling groggy in the daytime because of it then you may benefit from Chemist Direct’s range of sleeping aids, including herbal and homoeopathic remedies, and breathing aids from the most trusted brands. There’s no better remedy for a joyful mood than getting a good night’s sleep!
Spend time with friends and family
Surrounding yourself with the people you love is a great way to boost your mood. Whether you want to talk about your problems and get some advice, or simply do something fun to keep your mind off things, it’s important to have a good support network.
If you don’t have a good support network and you are struggling with your mental health, then you may want to join a support group. Self-help groups allow people with mental health conditions to provide, as well as receive, help. Visit the Mind website for information about support groups in your area. Or you can ask your GP or your local psychological therapies team about support groups in your area.
Talk to someone
Whether it’s a friend or family member, a work colleague or a healthcare professional, talking about your problems can help you to release stress and feel less alone.
If you feel unable to talk about things with people you know then you may find it helpful to attend a mental health support group or talk to someone through a registered charity service, such as Mental Health UK.
If you live in England and are aged 18 or over, you can also access NHS psychological therapies (IAPT) services. IAPT is a national NHS programme designed to increase the availability of talking therapy treatments recommended by the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE). To make sure that the IAPT service is right for you, you will need to complete a self-referral form. You can self-refer here.
Limit alcohol intake
There are many benefits to cutting down or cutting out alcohol. Taking a break from alcohol is one of the best things you can do for your health. Alcohol is a depressant, so even though it may feel like it’s distracting you from your problems or giving you temporary relief, it may actually be affecting your mood more negatively than you think.
Try to keep to the recommended daily alcohol limits to reduce the risk of serious problems with your health, including risks to your heart health. Limit your alcohol intake and focus on healthy living instead and you should notice an overall improvement in your mind and body.
If your view on life is being negatively impacted by stress factors then it’s important to find ways to reduce it. Breathing techniques, organising your time and time for self-care can all help to reduce stress and make you feel calmer. And if behavioural techniques aren’t helping, then Passion Flower and KarmaMood St John’s Wort Extract has been shown to relieve symptoms of mild anxiety and stress.
Make the most of natural light
If you returned to work in January after the festive 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, Vitamin D, and fresh air.
If you are working from home, set aside time for regular lunch breaks and try to get outside to get some fresh air.
Even though Blue Monday is a defunct concept; anxiety, depression and other mental health problems are real and felt by many. If you’re struggling this January (or at any point in the year) then don’t hesitate to seek help.
Find information and support for your mental health by visiting the NHS website.