Blue Monday – does it have to be blue?

The concept of Blue Monday was introduced back in 2005 when a travel company’s press release identified that the third Monday in January is one of the hardest days of the year. Since then, #bluemonday has become prevalent on social media and has earned the extra, unwanted title of ‘Most Depressing Day of the Year’, which in itself can be highly emotive and hugely detrimental.

January can, and usually does feel like an uphill struggle; the excitement of the festive period over, the days being cold, dark and so very…. very long, and the seemingly endless wait until pay day, but this year, in particular, brings extra challenges. This January follows a very subdued and quiet festive period for most, starting with a fresh lockdown and has continued with worrying news and statistics being broadcast daily into our homes. There seems to be a lot to be sad and worried about and finding little happy moments in the day is becoming harder.

We are experiencing ‘one of those days’ on a regular basis. The usual ‘Keep Calm and Carry On’ approach is not always realistic or beneficial and now, more than ever, it is becoming perfectly acceptable to voice your frustrations and seek comfort in the small things. It may not always be possible to keep smiling and soldiering on, sometimes you just have to be brave, face your feelings and take some time.

There are things we can all do to help ourselves and it is about finding the little things that bring you comfort and those moments of relief and happiness. With limited human contact, outside of your household, try picking up the phone to message or call a friend, or a work colleague who may have seemed slightly withdrawn on that Zoom call. You might find that they too are experiencing ‘one of those days’ more frequently and comfort can be sought knowing that you are not alone in this.

Fresh air is well documented to be hugely beneficial to your physical and mental well-being, so even if you don’t fancy a long ramble through the countryside, a brisk walk around the block might be enough to blow the cobwebs away and afford you a little perspective on the day.

Maybe set yourself a goal of walking or jogging to part of your local area which always seems slightly too far to get to, giving yourself small, incremental and achievable targets every other day until you are able to realise the goal. A sense of achievement can do wonders for your well-being.

Practising mindfulness can be an effective way to relieve stress and allow you time to breathe; focussing on breathing and taking deliberate and deep breaths can help you to unwind during those harder days. Sleep is essential to our physical and mental well-being; adequate sleep can be much sought after as we are spending more time on our phones and other devices into the night.

Practicing a combination of breathing exercises and meditation before going to bed can help to clear the mind, calm your thoughts and reward you with a restful sleep. If you are someone who struggles to wake up, thanks to the darker mornings, you might find that you benefit from light therapy that can be achieved through specialised lamps that replicate daylight and sunrises, or alternatively, if it does not hinder you getting to sleep, leave your bedroom curtains slightly open and let nature’s sunrise gently wake you.

Blue Monday doesn’t always have to be blue and by taking small steps to improve our mood and well-being, we can turn it in to a brighter day in whatever colour you choose.

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