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How to look after your mental health on Blue Monday and beyond.

7 Tips to help you improve your mental health.

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Blue Monday
Blue Monday

Monday 18th January 2021 is known as Blue Monday – also known as the most depressing day of the year. Originally coined by psychologist Cliff Arnall in 2004, it falls on the third Monday in January every year. He came up with it after a holiday company asked him for a “scientific formula” for the January blues.

Apparently, it’s the time of year when we’re all cold, the days are short, we’re broke after Christmas and beating ourselves up as our new year’s resolutions to get fit, drink less alcohol, and be a better person have fallen by the wayside. 

There’s actually no scientific evidence for it at all and some say it’s a PR exercise designed to be able to sell more products and services relating to well-being.

Personally, I always find the month of January depressing and I love to get away somewhere warm if I can – which obviously isn’t an option this year. But even if Blue Monday is a PR exercise, it’s an opportunity to put the spotlight onto mental health and get people opening up and talking about it – which can’t be a bad thing.

This year January is potentially even tougher for a lot of people with tighter lockdown restrictions – especially if you’ve recently been through a breakup. Not being able to see friends and family – and have that connection and support from them – is making what is already a traumatic time for people going through breakups, even harder.

If you’re in this situation, here are some tips to help you protect your mental health during this time:

  1. Speak to someone every day – whilst we can’t meet up with people, make an effort to speak to someone every day – not sending a text or email – but actually speaking to them. I know how hard this is when you’re feeling low – all you want to do is withdraw into your own bubble – but you’ll feel so much better for speaking to someone. Ideally chose people who light you up, make you laugh and feel good about yourself.

2. Book something to look forward to – I know it feels like life’s on hold and we’re in limbo – but try and get some things in the diary to look forward to later in the year. Can you book a holiday for the summer? Check if the T&Cs allow you to reschedule if you can’t go for health reasons or another lockdown. Get some dates in to meet up with friends – even if you might have to postpone them. You’ll feel better for just having them in your diary.

3. Do something you’re good at – What do you love doing? What activities can you lose yourself in? What did you love doing in the past? If you have more time on your hands, then now’s a great opportunity to start that hobby you’ve always wanted to do or pick up an old one that you’ve let slip. Being engrossed in an activity such as gardening, drawing or cooking is fantastic for your mental health and can really help to overcome stress and depression. Doing something you enjoy probably means you’re good at it too which helps to boost your self-esteem.

4. Get out in nature every day – Exercise is so important as it releases all the endorphins which help to make you feel good. You just need to move your body. It doesn’t have to be anything too strenuous, but getting outside if you can, really helps as well. Think about how you’re nourishing your body with your food. Make better choices and swap junk food for more nourishing food as this all contributes to good mental health.

5. Acts of kindness – Kindness is the antidote to stress. It releases the hormone oxytocin, also known as the “kindness hormone” which helps you feel warm and connected to others. It has such a positive impact on how you feel. Be kind to yourself as well as others. If you have some spare time on your hands – think about doing some volunteering.

6. Gratitude – Gratitude directly increases your happiness levels and is a great way to improve your mood. It calms the mind and reduces all the negative emotions you may be feeling. It’s a powerful way of getting your brain to focus on more positive things. Keep a list of 3 things you are grateful for every day for at least 3 weeks and you’ll start to notice a difference.

7. Reassess your New Year’s Resolutions – Apparently 80% of us ‘break’ our New Year’s Resolutions by the middle of February – so chances are you’ve broken yours by now. Don’t use this as an opportunity to beat yourself up and feel worse about yourself. Try and learn from it. Did the resolutions you set really inspire you and were they realistic? Visualise what you want for your future and who you need to be to achieve that. Set yourself some goals that will motivate you and stretch you – but make sure you’re not setting yourself up to fail.

This time of year is really tough for a lot of people, but don’t go through it alone. Reach out to friends and family for support and don’t be afraid to talk about how you’re feeling. Try and implement a couple of things on the list above and see if they help. By taking control of the situation and taking action, you’ll immediately start to feel better. Always seek professional help if you need to.

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