Is Blue Monday real?
In recent years, the third Monday of January features wall-to-wall coverage of the so-called phenomenon “Blue Monday” – supposedly the most depressing day of the year. But is it a real thing? In short, no.
The term was first devised by a psychologist at the request of a travel company, who has requested a scientific formula for the January Blues in a bid to encourage people to book a holiday to counteract it. It has been widely dismissed as pseudoscience.
Depression doesn’t pick days. However, there are genuine reasons we experience low moods at this time of year, and there are things you can do to counteract them.
After the excitement and the bustle of the Christmas season – the build-up for which seems to be earlier and earlier every year - it’s perfectly natural to feel a little down in the first days and weeks of the year. The NHS believes that this can affect around two million people in the UK.
Instead of giving into “The January Blues”, why not learn how to beat them? Here are our tips for giving yourself the best start to 2022.
Get plenty of daylight
Daylight hours in January are minimal, which leaves us lacking in some vital chemical productions that help our feel-good levels. Not getting enough sunlight and Vitamin D has been shown to decrease our happiness and leaves us feeling down in the dumps. Sunlight can make you feel better and help regulate your sleep cycles properly. Exposure to natural light increases the level of serotonin in the brain, which is associated with improved mood. So make sure you make the most of those daylight hours!
The dreaded ‘E’ word! We all know it’s true; exercise is fantastic method of making us feel better, and a great way to combat the January Blues. For some, exercise is something you want to do but struggle to fit in, and for others, it’s all about motivation. Even just a 20-minute walk can make you feel better. Mild exercise releases endorphins, so why not take a walk to the park to keep your body moving!
During the winter months, it is common for us to want more fatty and heavy food – but this is actually a bad idea. Foods with a high sugar content can cause tiredness and make you crave food unnecessarily. Eating a varied, balanced diet can improve your mood and give you more energy.
Good news! You can sleep more; it is advised that adults need between six and nine hours of sleep per night. Poor sleep can harm your mental health and lead you to feel irritable, anxious, and worried. Reducing your screen time in the evenings can let your brain switch off and enable you to get some good quality zZ’s.
Acts of kindness
Kindness is a word that gets thrown about. But did you know that kindness is an incredible way of giving us a mood boost? A chemical called oxytocin is released into our bodies and makes us feel great. It does come with a warning though: don’t be so kind to everyone else that you neglect yourself in return. Try to plan one kind act you can do in moderation to release the hormones and chemicals in your body that help you feel better physically and mentally.
To get your acts of kindness started, you can download the Toucan app, where your good deeds will take place in your pocket! You can discover and support thousands of charities and set up monthly donations to the causes you care about most.