Is Blue Monday the same as the Monday Blues?
Blue Monday didn’t actually originate from a scientific study, it originated from a calculation involving factors such as the weather, debt levels, guilt from overindulging over the festive break, and lower motivation levels from failing New Year’s resolutions to determine what the most depressing day of the year was. According to this calculation, it is the third Monday in January.
Even though the idea of Blue Monday isn’t technically founded in science, the concept has caught on like wildfire, leaving many of us dreading this particular Monday above all others. Below I’ve listed 6 simple steps you can take to help you turn the most depressing day of the year into a day that’s packed with as much fun as a Saturday afternoon!
1) When you moan you make your mood groan...
Although it may be tempting, we don’t help ourselves by moaning – whether it is about work, friends, situations that haven’t gone our way or anything else. Instead, try to focus on talking about things that are positive and look for the silver lining amongst the thunder clouds. Programming your brain to notice the good in every situation helps to cultivate a sense of appreciation and gratitude which, in turn, has positive psychological and physiological effects.
2) Turn that frown upside down!
When you smile the world smiles with you! And, what’s more, it even has beneficial effects on your mood whether you feel like smiling or not! One study found that a smile that engages the mouth and moves the eyes has the ability to activate the brain patterns of positive emotions.1 Other studies suggest that smiling is contagious too and allows us to empathise and even experience the same positive emotions.2
Your body language and posture can also impact our mental outlook, our perception of the world and other people’s perception of us. When you slouch you adopt a more defensive position that leaves you feeling depleted in energy, less open to possibilities and can even put you in a bad mood!3 So when it comes to facing Blue Monday, sit up straight, show us a dashing smile and have fun! Check out my blog for more tips on how your body language can influence your mood.
3) Boost your mood using your food!
Whilst we can’t do much about the fact that Blue Monday is deemed the most depressing day of the year, research has shown that diet alterations could actually bring about changes in our brain structure which, in turn, can result in positive changes to our mood. With it being January, many of us are looking to eat healthier and lose weight and positive dietary changes could actually help us to combat feeling low on Blue Monday.
Our diet can affect us on neurological levels and affect feel good chemicals such as neurotransmitters like serotonin and dopamine. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that helps to regulate sleep, appetite, inhibit pain and help balance our mood. Around 95% of this essential chemical is produced in our gastrointestinal tract and if our digestive tract isn’t happy, chances are you won’t be either!
Diet is a huge, huge area so thinking about making changes can seem daunting at first. Don’t worry though; A.Vogel has a wealth of information on healthy eating from our food education blogs, to easy-to-follow recipes, to my own blog on surprising foods that can put you in a rubbish mood. Try making small dietary changes first that are easy to manage, this will not only give you time to adjust to new healthy foods but it will also mean that you are more likely to stick to these changes long-term.
Why not have a go at making these super healthy and nutritious Cinnamon and Chia Seed Energy Balls? They are really quick and easy to make, rich in dietary fibre and packed with protein and healthy fats to give you the perfect energy boost to survive that Monday afternoon energy slump!
4) Have no fear, fresh air will make the blues disappear!
If your Monday is so hectic that you can’t get exercising, I’d definitely recommend getting outside for some fresh air during the day instead. It’s no secret that January is a dark and gloomy month, but what you may not know is that this can have a detrimental effect on our mood. The longer nights and shorter days make it more difficult for us to see daylight. This makes us more prone to depression and conditions such as Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD).
According to Harvard Medical School, light elevates our mood, and can relax us and make us feel more cheerful.4 Being exposed to daylight can help to reduce heart rate as well as levels of depression, fatigue and anxiety. Unfortunately, most of us work in office environments with little or no exposure to daylight, which is why conditions like Seasonal Affective Disorder can take hold. Try to maximise your exposure to daylight by opening curtains and blinds and taking walks at lunch if you can to get some fresh air. To learn more about how being outside can be beneficial for our mood check out my blog on how nature makes us happier.
5) Lift your mood with herbal remedies
If the Monday Blues are getting you down herbal remedies can help to provide relief from mild symptoms and get us back on track to feeling great. For low mood I’d suggest trying out our Hyperiforce tablets that contain the herb St John’s Wort, which was traditionally used to help relieve symptoms such as low mood and mild anxiety.
6) Does sleep impact how we feel about Blue Monday?
Yes! Your sleep can certainly impact how you feel about Blue Monday. As I discuss in my Blue Monday Sleep blog, poor sleep can also have a large impact on how we perceive the day. There is a link between poor sleep and elevated negative thinking that, coupled with the added financial stresses of January, and the dark, gloomy weather, it’s no wonder that we regard this day as quite miserable. For some handy tips on how to improve your sleep for January check out my blog on Sleep to Beat Blue Monday.
Originally written on 14/01/2018, updated on