The third Monday in January is often referred to as ‘Blue Monday’. Typically, at this point in the New Year, people have returned to normality after the festive period, and are contending with dark nights, bad weather and the financial strains of Christmas, which can leave many feeling down. This year, with the ongoing effects of the coronavirus pandemic, it is likely that many people are feeling even worse.
Managing Blue Monday
If you are struggling with how you feel this January, you will likely want to abandon normality and forgo your regular routines. It is important to push yourself to be proactive, plan your days and maintain a structure at this time. In fact, it is a good time to start making decisions and setting routines for your year ahead.
Below are four ways in which you can be proactive throughout January to help lift your mood:
Plan and importantly, eat healthy meals
As easy as it can be to reach for an unhealthy meal or snack, these foods can actually leave you feeling more tired and lethargic. If you overeat on unhealthy foods when you are low, this may give you a momentary feeling of pleasure and provide a short-term distraction, but this will only be fleeting and will likely leave you feeling guilty afterwards.
Take care of yourself by eating meals that contain foods rich in folic acid such as avocado and spinach, as well as those high in omega-3 acids like salmon and tuna. Eating healthily can also help to give your self-esteem a boost, leaving you feeling pleased about living a healthy lifestyle.
Get active and get outdoors where possible
While you may be reluctant to exercise outdoors in January, try to get moving throughout the month. Exercise releases endorphins – your ‘feel good’ chemicals – which can help you to feel calmer and happier. What’s more, exercising outdoors in natural light can give you an additional boost of endorphins, stabilise serotonin and help you to get a good night’s sleep.
Plan in time to exercise every day so that you are less likely to skip the workout and feel guilty about it afterwards. You could go for a walk at lunchtime, organise online workouts with your friends or sign up with an online personal trainer. As January is a common time to try new hobbies, you may also want to try an online class you’ve always wanted to attend.
Listen to your emotions
When you feel sad, it can be tempting to bury your emotions or distract yourself from them instead. Rather than ignoring how you feel, make a ‘problem list’ where you write down all the things that are causing you to feel low and tackle them one at a time.
For each problem, write down a solution and outline the benefit of working through the issue to give you the motivation to do so. The process of identifying and starting to make these changes to your life is unlikely to be easy, but will be worthwhile. Remember that the solutions and the actions you plan to take should be realistic so that you stay motivated and are able to achieve them.
Also, spend time focusing on the positives in your life. At the end of every day, write down three things that you are grateful for or that went well during the day. Appreciating what you have in your life can help you to feel more optimistic about the day that has just gone and the day ahead.
Talk to someone
Make time to speak to people you’re close to, whether it is a partner, friend, family member or colleague. Talking to the people you care about can be a good mood-booster, helping you to relax, have a good laugh and forget about your worries.
You may also want to talk about how you’re feeling with someone you trust. With their help, you can work on what has been troubling you and find ways to make you feel better.
Beyond Blue Monday
For someone suffering from depression, they will typically feel extremely sad or hopeless for months or even years, rather than a few days. We understand that depression can be overwhelming and have a huge impact on your daily life and your relationships.
Symptoms that you may find that you have when you are suffering from depression include:
- Slowing down of thoughts and physical movements
- Social withdrawal
- Low mood and being tearful all the time
- Loss of interest in activities that you once enjoyed
- Inability to experience pleasure
- Irritable and anxious
- Sleep disturbances
- Weight loss or gain
A list of all of the symptoms of depression can be found here: https://www.priorygroup.com/mental-health/depression-treatment/depression-symptoms
Self-care is important for those with depression. If you are able to push yourself to do this, it can give you a good opportunity to boost your mood. However, if you feel as though things aren’t getting better or are in fact getting worse, the most important thing you can do is seek help.
Depression isn’t something you have to deal with alone, and there are many specialists who can help you to get better. At Priory, we are dedicated to providing people who need our support with the very best depression treatment in order to help them feel better.
Treatments such as cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) and dialectical behaviour therapy (DBT) can be used to help you manage your emotions and return to a healthier way of life. Therapy can also be carried out on a one-to-one basis or in a group or family setting, which can help if you need to share your experiences and explore your emotions with others.
With Priory, one of our specialists will work with you to find the most suitable course of action, guide you through the process and advise on medication that can be used to complement therapy if needed.