How to Avoid Blue Monday Blues

Blue Monday is looming again. It is apparently the most depressing day of the year. What a ridiculous idea. I really can’t be doing with it. There is no science behind the idea of Blue Monday, and it is entirely normal to feel a bit down about going back to work after the Christmas break. But if you dwell on how horrible it all is, the chances are you’ll feel rather grim. Some of your team might well be a bit influenced by the hype.

Well, it’s nonsense of course. Some days are good. Some days are less so. There’s no such thing as the most depressing day of the year. Goodness knows life can be trying at times without dubbing a day “Blue Monday”.

Seasonal affective disorder

So let’s have some fun with this and change your internal monologue so that you feel upbeat instead!

1. Find three things to feel happy about

Focusing on what you have got to be grateful for rather than what you haven't helps reduce that stress, especially if you write it down.

2. Eat mood-boosters

Making small strategic changes to your diet could dramatically reduce mood swings, food cravings, irritability and tiredness, plus boost your memory and concentration.

Mood-boosting foods include:

• Salmon (omega 3-rich fish oil may help with symptoms of depression)

• Lean red meat (keep iron stores up to fight tiredness and fatigue)

• Mussels (one of the highest sources of vitamin B12 as well as iron)

• Eggs (great source of B12, a deficiency of which has been linked to low mood and depression)

• Asparagus (one of the richest plant sources of tryptophan)

• Bananas (these contain the amino acid tryptophan plus vitamin B6 which helps convert tryptophan into boost-boosting serotonin)

• Oats (slow release sugars in oats help maintain balanced blood sugar levels)

• Brazil nuts (rich in selenium, a deficiency of which is linked to low mood

• Pumpkin seeds (rich in magnesium. Low intakes are linked to low mood and depression)

• Dark chocolate (helps to trigger the pleasure hormone dopamine)

3. Be kind/ have chats

Research suggests that simple acts of kindness can improve your mental health and even reduce physical pain. Have a chat with the cashier at the post office or the person in the sandwich queue. Give blood, give up a seat for someone, give to charity or help carry a pushchair up the stairs. Being kind activates the parts of the brain associated with pleasure, social connection and trust creating a kind of 'helper's high'.

4. Get some sleep

Being sleep-deprived is linked to everything from weight gain to a weakened immune system, grumpiness and reduced productivity.

Ban the technology from your bedroom, avoid alcohol, don’t consume caffeine after 4pm, and try to get to bed at roughly the same time each night. Magnesium supplements can help you sleep.

5. Swallow some sunshine

Vitamin D is vital for immunity, as well as for healthy bones', adding 'deficiency is one reason why some people experience frequent coughs, colds, respiratory infections and even asthma attacks at this time of year. A lack of it is also linked to low mood and depression.

6. Go outside for a brisk walk

Walking for just 30 minutes is an effective way to help improve low mood, anxiety and mild to moderate depression. It should help you feel clearer-headed. (It will also help to shift any Christmas poundage!).

7. Plan a treat

Book a holiday, or maybe a long weekend at the Butterfly Loft.

Can't afford a holiday? Book an event like a posh afternoon tea or a spa break – discounted ones are always available at the time of year on voucher sites like Groupon.

8. Wear bright colours

Winter is so grey. The days are short, the light is often poor. One of my favourite winter “bleah-busters” is to wear bright colours, especially jumpers, scarves and hats. Red is a wonderful colour that suits everyone and wearing it always energises me, but fuchsia, purple and bright blue have a similar impact.

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DISCLAIMER

Although every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information contained in this blog, nothing herein should be construed as giving advice and no responsibility will be taken for inaccuracies or errors.

Copyright © 2020 all rights reserved. You may copy or distribute this blog as long as this copyright notice and full information about contacting the author are attached. The author is Kate Russell of Russell HR Consulting Ltd.