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Blue Monday, simple steps to get you through the worst day of the year

It's called 'Blue Monday' but people are urging others to change it into 'Brew Monday', as a brew with a friend or family could make a difference.

If you are feeling down, stressed and everything seems to be irritating you more than usual today, good news is you are not alone. Blue Monday is ‘the most depressing day of the year’ according to psychologist Cliff Arnall who in 2004 coined the ‘Blue Monday’ concept, which would be a proper formula calculating the reasons why most people happen to be depressed this time of the year.

‘Blue Monday’ – the most depressing day of the year

Psychologist Cliff Arnall had explained why pseudoscience is behind the concept of ‘Blue Monday’. In fact, the third Monday of January appears to be particularly depressing for most people.

The formula calculates: weather, debt, time since Christmas, new year’s resolution fails, low motivation and the need to take action. There you have it, you are probably feeling cold, broke and incredibly guilty for not being fit enough and for having broke your new year’s resolutions already, all added up to the feeling of urgency caused by knowing spring is going to feel even worst if you don’t make a move.

Well good news is you are not alone and also –last but not least- you can make it better, by taking some steps that will help you. Here’s some simple but essential advice that will help you getting back on track.

1. Talk

It is so easy to lock ourselves away from others when we are feeling down. Try to open up with family or a friend by taking the time to have a simple chat about anything and -why not- mentioning Blue Monday and sharing each other’s advice for what could make today a bit cosier. It’s not a coincidence if people online are discussing whether to rename Blue Monday into Brew Monday, in order to urge people to check in with friends and family by taking the chance of a brew – even a virtual one- during the pandemic. Someone’s words could really help you right now and someone out there could really be releaved by hearing one from you.

2. Get closer to nature

Spending time in green spaces has wonderful effects. Nature is the perfect go-to friend when you are feeling low. Researchers and scientists have long studied why nature has such great benefits on human mental health. Taking a breath of fresh air in the nature at least once a week will reduce stress and help you reducing anxiety. You could take a longer walk to the nearest park when you’re going for some food shopping, or going to your favourite green space. Sitting on a bench in the park has hidden magical effects.

3. Exercise

This is too important not to give it a chance. Exercising will make you feel happier and will increase cognitive function and self-confidence instantly. Even a good walk will do, as soon as you make your body moving!

4. Take care of your sleep

Resting has become incresingly difficult, stress levels are super high and always being looking at screens does not help. But sleeping well is essential for our physical and mental health and studies have shown the best resting hours are between 7 and 9 hours. So try to make a little change. There are many meditation and good night sleep apps out there that you could give a chance to or you could try to avoid looking at a screen for at least an hour before sleeping – hopefully more than that. Do you remember books? If you are not a fan, radio or audibles could be an alternative.

Blue Monday is also a chance to tackle some of the stigma around depression and raising awareness of symptoms. Isabella Goldie, Director at the Mental Health Foundation, said: “What we can take from Blue Monday is that we all have mental health and that there are steps we can take all year round to protect it”. Taking care of your mental health is important and reaching out for help if you are feeling depressed should not be ‘secondary’ or scary, there are many online resources and helplines, such as Mind.gov.uk or the Samaritans at Samaritans.org, as well as anxietyuk.org.uk and mentalhealth.org.uk.

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