The Monday of the second full week of January is popularly known as ‘Blue Monday’ – the most depressing day of the calendar year, due to the perfect storm of dark winter days, holiday debt, time since Christmas, and a seemingly long road ahead to the next fun thing we get to do. It is essentially the epitome of Winter Blues, a phenomenon all too familiar to northern nations. So what can you do to fight the winter blues? The good news is, plenty. Try some self-management techniques to keep you (and those around you) feeling positive this January:
Go outside. Preferably somewhere away from the city, and even more preferable to be during the daylight hours to soak up the little Vitamin D you can gather this time of year. Being in nature fills us with positive energy, and fresh air almost instantly calms us.
Eat well. You probably made some New Year’s resolution to eat better anyway, and now is the time it matters most. While sugars and processed foods leave us feeling low, wholesome, healthy foods naturally boost us.
Exercise. Nothing gets positivity flowing like a bit of exercise. Just 30 minutes a day can see your body pumping endorphins (feel-good chemicals) all day long.
Do something for someone. There is incredible evidence in psychology that doing something to help other people in turn makes us feel good. Make the ‘season of giving’ extend into the New Year, and commit a random act of kindness! (Why not pop in on a lonely senior neighbour?)
Have something to look forward to. It seems a long way until the holiday season begins again, so give yourself something more short-term to look forward to. If there’s nothing in the calendar, why not plan something with friends or family? Throw a party, plan a fun day out, or check your local What’s On listings and sign up for something!
Practice mindfulness. ‘Mindfulness’ is all the rage in 2015, and for good reason. You don’t have to meditate, if that’s not your thing. Try practicing a Mindfulness Minute: focus on deep breathing, repeat your mantra to yourself (“Today I feel positive”, for example), and focus on reasons to be grateful. Give it a shot!
Above all, remember that Blue Monday is a statistic, and you are not a statistic. You are the master of your own domain. If you see someone struggling to cope with the winter blues, be their friend.