Blue Monday, as it's known, falls on the third Monday of every January. This day is considered to be the most depressing day of the year.
A combination of darker days and cold weather, being back at work, Christmas bills landing and new year's resolutions starting to waiver, all come to a head to make many of us feel pretty blue. Cheerful stuff eh?
But there's hope! It's not all doom and gloom, there are things we can do to lift our spirits this January. Focus on these 5 areas and just remember to S.M.I.L.E.
We've all heard the phrase 'they must have got out of the wrong side of the bed' – directed at someone in a bad mood. This highlights the fact we intuitively know our sleep and mood state are closely linked! There is much research supporting the link between sleep and mental health. It's also believed that brain activity occurring when we sleep is linked to our emotional health, so any disruptions to sleep patterns can significantly impact on this.
To help support your mental and emotional health this January, make sure you prioritise getting good sleep. Our top tips for sleep quality are:
Exercise directly impacts our mental state and can provide an immediate boost in some cases. There is an abundance of research supporting the fact that physical activity can improve our mood, and it has even been suggested as part of the treatment of depression for some individuals.
You may well have heard people describe a 'runners high' which is a euphoric like feeling some runners experience from a surge of endorphins in their body – essentially feel good chemicals! So exercise really can give us a much needed boost when we need it most.
If you're feeling a little sluggish or down, try doing some form of physical activity to boost your mood. Here are our favourite options to really get the endorphins going:
There is much more talk around self-care nowadays as we're increasingly aware of our need to check in with ourselves. Taking some time to do something just for you can do wonders for your mood, and should be something we all do more often. Slow down and take some 'me time' during this tough month.
Here are some of my favourite activities to try:
Consider revisiting your new year's resolution(s) now that we're well into the new year and reality has kicked in. At the end of the year when we're all partied out after Christmas and New Year's Eve, we feel so ready to make a change that we set unrealistic expectations of ourselves. Take this time to think again about what you want out of the next week, month, 6 months, year, and set yourself realistic goals that really will fit in with your day-to-day – now that you're back to reality.
Remember when it comes to goal setting, it's all about being S.M.A.R.T:
For more on goal setting read our blog.
There are certain foods which are believed to help boost our mood due to the nutrients they contain. As well as this, ensuring we eat regular meals and base our food around protein and high-fibre carbohydrate choices will help to keep blood sugar levels stable. Peaks and troughs in blood sugar has been shown to affect energy and mood.
Here are the top 7 'happy' foods to include in your diet:
Find out why each one is special in our blog.
Nutritionist Emma Brown (ANutr), MSc Human Nutrition is passionate about how food science applies to the human body, and how the nutrients in what we eat affect us and ultimately have an impact on our health.