January Blue Monday – Top 10 Tips to get you through
January is a hard month. The excitement of Christmas is over, money troubles & debt can be highlighted for many during this month, weather is grey, wet and cold, feelings of ground hog day/year can plague many, especially as the back to work blues hit after time off over the Christmas period. So with all this to contend with it is no wonder that January is the month of Blue Monday, falling this year on January 20th. This is meant to mark the day that is classed as the most depressing day of the year due to all of the above factors.
So in preparation for this supposed gloomy day ahead, here are top ten tips to help get you through Blue Monday with as little gloominess as possible:
1. Binge on Magnesium high foods - Science tells us there is a link between low magnesium levels in the body and depression, and as magnesium has become one of the most common mineral deficiencies in the UK, it certainly can be very helpful in the fight against depression. So what better things to eat on Blue Monday than foods packed with magnesium. This includes bananas, brown rice, spinach, figs, avocado, Brazil nuts, pumpkin seeds and mackerel.
2. Think positive thoughts - Remember the brain is a powerful thing. The media has chosen to publicise this day as Blue Monday and all the connotations that has, but it is up to you whether you want your brain to believe it. In other words if you’re programmed to think it’s going to be a depressing day, it’s more likely to be a depressing day. If however you actively think positive thoughts and have some positive things or activities planned that day, no matter how small, you will more likely get through the day with less gloominess.
3. Avoid Alcohol – Alcohol is a depressant, so the last thing you want to do on Blue Monday, especially if you are feeling low already, is drink something that’s going to make you feel worse, not only today but tomorrow too. This is the perfect day to choose an alcohol free beverage or even drink a big glass of Planted instead!
4. Eat oily fish & nuts – Both these foods are great sources of omega-3 and omega-6 fats, which are great for helping improve mood and concentration levels, both of which will be useful on Blue Monday.
5. Have a brew and chat – A new initiative has been launched this year to coincide with Blue Monday and that is ‘Brew Monday’. This is encouraging people to have a brew and a chat with someone, anyone. The point of this being that you are likely not the only one that is feeling a bit low on this day and having a small chat wherever you are on this day, work, supermarket, or at home, it may help you feel not quite as alone as you may do otherwise. Even a small chat can help lift your mood and remember if you are feeling really low and don’t have someone to talk to, there is always a friendly person to speak to at the end of the phone by ringing the Samaritans on 116 123.
6. Increase levels of your ‘happy hormone’, Serotonin – Serotonin is one hormone in your body that effects mood. If serotonin levels are low, your mood can also be low. Some foods can help increase serotonin levels, these include carbohydrate rich foods such as brown rice, porridge, whole wheat pasta and bread and starchy vegetables, so make sure your Blue Monday is packed full of these food types to keep your serotonin levels high.
7. A walk outside – Research now shows the huge link between being outside in nature and improved mood. One study in ‘Mind’ showed that 95% of those interviewed said their mood improved after spending time outside, changing from stressed, depressed and anxious, to more calm and balanced. Even looking at photos of nature has shown to improve wellbeing and mood. So wherever you are on Blue Monday try and spend at least 10 minutes outside, ideally in a green space.
8. Step away from the sugar – It may be tempting when we are feeling down and low to reach for the high sugar foods. This is especially easy in January when you may still have surplus left over chocolate from Christmas, but this will NOT improve your mood, it will in fact do the opposite. Eating high sugar foods will only succeed in spiking your blood sugar levels leading to a big plunge in blood sugar levels shortly afterwards. It’s during that plunge that you will end up feeling worse than you did before with added tiredness thrown in as well. This is not a good combination on Blue Monday!
9. Drink, Drink & Drink – Unfortunately I am not talking about alcohol here but water. Dehydration effects mood, concentration and energy levels so the last thing you want to be on blue Monday is dehydrated! Take a bottle or flask to work and leave on your desk to sip throughout the day. If you are not a big drinker, set your alarm every hour to remind you to have a good glug of water or make a drink. Even 5% dehydration in the body negatively impacts us, so get the water out!
10. Vitamin D - 1 in 5 adults in England are considered to have inadequate / low vitamin D levels. This is especially the case during the winter months when we get very little sunlight, and as 90% of our vitamin D requirement comes from sunlight, January is really not a great month! Amongst other things, low levels of Vitamin D can cause low mood so if your Vitamin D levels are low on blue Monday that’s not a great combination. The Public Health England guidelines now state that adults should have 10 micrograms (mcg) of vitamin D EVERY day. This especially applies during the autumn and winter months.
Let’s face it, Monday is never the best day of the week. When that Monday comes in January the affects can be trebled. So hopefully the tips above will allow you to get through Blue Monday relatively unscathed and ready for the lighter nights and warmer weather, which are just around the corner.