Blue Monday is the third Monday in January, and is thought to be the most depressing day of the year. The theory goes that this is the time of year when we’re all cold, broke and riddled with guilt that our new year’s resolutions have fallen by the wayside.
After a pretty miserable start to 2021, we were all hoping for a better start to 2022. With the prospect of life not being completely back to normal, here is an hour-by-hour Blue Monday Survival Guide that will help you beat some of the bad vibes this Blue Monday!
7am – GET YOUR SWEAT ON
Whether it’s heading out in the fresh air for a walk, doing a workout in your front room or braving the gym in January, put on your brand-new gym gear you got for Christmas and get moving! Getting those endorphins flowing first thing in the morning is a great way to start your day! You’ll be left feeling energised and ready for the day!
8am – GET SCRUBBING
Maximise the feel-good opportunities of your morning routine to keep Blue Monday blues at bay. Take a cold shower! Recommended by Beata Aleksandrowic, international massage expert and founder of Pure Massage; taking a cold shower can help increase circulation, which can help pick you up when you’re feeling down. Teach your body to adapt to the cold water by gradually decreasing the temperature when you’re in the shower. Then alternate hot and cold water to boost your immune and circulatory systems!
9am – FUEL UP AS YOU MEAN TO GO ON
Nutritionist Fiona Lawson has the ultimate breakfast suggestion for fighting Blue Monday. The secret to mood-boosting food is choosing foods that balance your blood sugar. Oats are a perfect example of this as they provide a low GL form of carbohydrate. This means their energy is released slowly and steadily. This helps you to feel consistently energised, positively affecting your thoughts and emotions. Oats are also bursting with B vitamins which help the body to manage stress, and the fibre in oats not only supports regular digestion, but it can feed the good bacteria in the gut – something that is increasingly shown in science to positively impact mood. Why not try once of these porridge recipes this week!
10am – DRINK UP
Never underestimate the power of your mid-morning hydration break for banishing Blue Monday thoughts. The human brain is comprised of about 75% water. Dehydration slows circulation, which results in less oxygen travelling to your entire body – including your brain. So, staying hydrated isn’t only good for us physically, but also mentally!
12pm – EAT UP
Eating foods that are good for our brain can support both short-and long-term brain function. Here are some brain-boosting foods that will help keep you mentally in check: oily fish, dark chocolate, berries, nuts and seeds, wholegrains, avocados, peanuts, eggs, broccoli and kale. Try and add some of these to your lunch menu to help with the positive vibes!
1pm – JUST SMILE
This is probably the simplest thing you can do to banish Blue Monday blues: just smile! Recommended by numerous life coaches and behavioural experts, when you move your mouth upwards, science has proved that your mood will follow. Here are some quick-fix methods to boost your mood:
- Phone a friend and share something that’s bothering you, then let it go.
- Do good to feel good. Buy your friend or work colleague a coffee on your lunch break!
- Nurture in nature. Research shows that nature soaks up negative vibes, so take a walk outside if you need an energy shift.
2pm – TAKE A BREAK
Take a 10-minute break from your screen or whatever you’re doing and stretch! It sounds silly, but stretching actually has many benefits on your body and mind! Stretching stimulates receptors in the nervous system that slow the production of stress hormones. Stretching can:
- Release hormones for mood and emotions.
- Increases blood flow and circulation.
- Improves balance, flexibility and range of movement.
- Focuses your awareness to the present.
3pm – MAKE YOUR GUT HAPPY
An imbalanced gut microbiome has been associated with low mood. Help restore order by filling up on pre- and probiotics. Swap your afternoon coffee for: fresh fruit, an oat cake, homemade yoghurt, walnuts or seeds, as these are all foods that can help.
4pm – LIGHT UP
The NHS estimates that around one in 15 people are affected by Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) in the UK – and symptoms, which include low mood, lethargy and irritability, can increase around this time. We all need around 30 minutes of bright light to our eyes every day for optimum mood. However, this can be hard to achieve during the winter months. Why not try a light-therapy light to help boost your mood?
5pm – FIND A PET
According to the University of British Columbia, spending time around animals can lower stress levels and improve mood. And even better, you don’t need to have your own pet to benefit – just watching cute clips online can have a positive impact!
7pm – DINNER IS SERVED
When you’re feeling a bit low, it can be easy to reach for the takeaway menu or binge on unhealthy foods. However, it’s more important than ever to feast on healthy and nutritious foods during these low times. Oily fish such as mackerel or salmon are rich with vitamin D, a nutrient that helps the immune system function properly. In the spring and summer, we can make this vitamin in our body when our skin is exposed to sunlight, but in the winter, we need a bit of a helping hand. Other foods that are rich in vitamin D are egg yolks, red meat, cod liver oil, tinned tuna and mushrooms.
9pm – HAVE SOME YOU TIME
After a busy day at work, it’s so important to make some time for you and to do something that you enjoy! It’s all about self-care! Whether it’s relaxing in a hot bath, reading a book, doing some yoga, watching a film, going to the gym, baking or just spending time with family, make sure you always block out some time in the day that’s for you!
10pm – SLEEP SLEEP SLEEP
Getting a good night’s sleep is key when it comes to fighting negative thoughts and feeling happy. Here are some top bed time tips for a good night’s sleep:
- Turn down the heat – the ideal range for sleep is 16-18 degrees.
- Switch off the lights – Light can keep the brain engaged so make your bedroom as dark as possible. This means shutting the blinds or curtains and possibly even using a sleep mask to block out any natural light.
- Log off – Avoid using any devices with screens in the hours before bedtime, as the blue light they emit can disrupt your sleep.