Beat the Monday Blues: how to focus on the positives

The festivities are over, it’s back to work and Blue Monday – dubbed the most depressing day of the year – is upon us again this January.

Editor Jane Garton looks at smart ways to lighten the load and bring some joy back into your life.

Blue Monday is the name given to a Monday in mid-January – said to be the gloomiest and most depressing day of the year. Christmas and New Year celebrations are over, the weather is cold and spring sunshine seems months away. No guesses then as to why it has earned this name.

But it is not all gloom and doom. Looking at the positive side why not devote this year’s Blue Monday (January 17th) to focusing on things you can do to make life a little brighter instead of concentrating on the more negative aspects.

Here are some top tips to help you stay upbeat this January.

Treat yourself

Dinner party setting

Decide not to give in to a day of feeling blue. Summon up your resilient self and plan a special activity with family, friends or colleagues.  Go our for a meal or treat yourself in some special way.

Think about holidays

Flip flops and sun glasses in the sand on a sunny beach

Start planning your summer break (Covid rules permitting). Even thinking about sunny climes or looking at holiday brochures is said to help boost mood. Whether it’s planning a holiday for later in the year or deciding what to do at the weekend, looking forward to something new or different can be uplifting and refreshing.

Get outside

Woman taking a winter walk in snowy woodland

There’s nothing like a walk outside in the country or if you live in a town your local park for lifting the spirits. Endless studies back up the positive benefits to your mental health and wellbeing of spending time in nature

Sort out your finances

A pad with budget written on it

If it’s New Year money worries that are getting you down now’s the perfect time to sort them out. Work out a budget that you can stick to and if necessary, make an appointment with a financial planner who can help you work through your finances.

Don’t beat yourself up

A woman looking at a pad with 2022 goals written on it

You may have already broken some New Year Resolutions but don’t go into guilt mode. There’s still plenty of time to get back in your stride and remember taking small steps towards your goals is the way to achieve them.

Try some helpful herbs

ST John's Wort flower with bright blue sky background

If you just can’t seem to shift your mood a course of the sunshine herb St John’s wort might help you to do just that. The active ingredient hypericin, helps increase natural levels of the feel-good chemical serotonin and doesn’t have any of the side effects that sometimes occur with some anti-depressant medicines.

And if you are having sleep problems St John’s wort may also help by boosting levels of melatonin – a hormone that helps regulate quality and quantity of sleep. If you are taking any other medications, check with your GP for any contra-indications.

Reach out

W woman having a zoom call with a friend on a tablet

Get in touch with a friend or relative that you don’t see very often or haven’t heard from for a while via email or zoom. Thinking about someone else and hearing what they have to say can often change your perspective on life and stop you focusing on yourself and your worries.

Eat healthily

Example of a healthy eating plate

A well-balanced diet with plenty of fruit and veg is best. Include lots of oily fish such as salmon or tuna – the omega-3s they contain are known as a natural anti-depressant.

Watch the alcohol

A post it note saying drink less

It’s always tempting to reach for the wine bottle to help numb your feelings but beware. Alcohol is a depressant and drinking can actually end up making you feel worse.  Reduce your alcohol intake, go for no or low alcohol alternatives or even a cup of soothing herbal tea. Camomile or valerian are calming options while ginseng or peppermint can help to perk you up.

Keep moving

Wmoan diong aerobic exercise indoors

Exercise releases endorphins – the body’s own feel-good hormones. And the good news is it doesn’t have to be anything too strenuous. It’s more important to go for something you enjoy that you are likely to stick with.

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