For many of us, January can feel like a long slog. The poor weather, short days and return to reality after the festive break can make it feel as though it lasts far longer than it should.
One day in particular is said to be the most depressing day of the year - Blue Monday. This is down to it being slap bang in the middle of January where people are stuck with weeks to go until the longer and brighter days.
If you are in need of some tips to help you power on through until February, then you may be in luck. Health experts at NiceRx have compiled a list of ways you can fend off the January blues this Blue Monday.
Amongst the tips are points such as getting active and trying to spend some time outdoors. Jamie Winn, medical writer at NiceRx.com said: “The January Blues typically manifest as feelings of low mood, lack of motivation, and low energy, but there are simple steps we can all take to combat these emotions.
“A lack of daylight is partly why people suffer from low moods with many of us not getting enough sunlight and Vitamin D in January. As the days get shorter, people can experience general moodiness or a longer-term depression that is tied to a decreased exposure to natural light, so it is important to try and spend some time outside in natural light.
She added: “What you eat can have a direct influence on how you feel. In the winter months, we naturally crave salty and processed foods, but it is important to include as much fresh fruit and vegetables as possible into our diet to properly fuel our bodies. Incorporating foods high in Vitamin D and Omega-3 will also improve your cognitive function, helping to regulate your moods.”
7 ways to tackle the January blues
1. Create a plan for your day
With low motivation common in January, establishing a daily routine for yourself can help keep you productive. Creating a routine with realistic goals and breaks for self-care will help to maintain your energy levels throughout the day and keep your brain active.
Ticking off just one thing can feel like an achievement.
2. Get active
Increasing your heart rate for just 20 minutes can release endorphins, our body’s natural antidepressants, which help to reduce feelings of stress and low mood. Exercising does not have to be intense - something simple like a lunchtime walk, a home workout or a short bodyweight exercise can leave you feeling more energised and improve your mental health.
3. Spend some time outdoors
With dark mornings and evenings, a lack of daylight is partly why people suffer from the January Blues. Aim to spend some time outside, even for 10 minutes, as the exposure to natural light will increase levels of serotonin in the brain and help to improve your mood.
If you can’t get outside, make sure to draw your curtains or blinds open to let natural light in.
4. Eat well
A healthy diet can boost your mood, give you more energy, maintain a healthy weight and improve your motivation. Reducing your intake of processed foods and foods high in sugar can help prevent crashes associated with drops in mood.
A balanced diet is also crucial for achieving a good night’s sleep, which helps improve your physical and mental health.
5. Increase your intake of the Sunshine Vitamin
Fewer daylight hours in winter means our bodies require extra Vitamin D in order to support our immune system and prevent fatigue. Try to incorporate foods such as mushrooms and fortified juices, which are rich in the sunshine vitamin, into your diet or consider getting some supplements to help reduce feelings of tiredness.
6. Spend some time with friends and family
One of the easiest ways to improve your mental health is to spend some time with others like your family, friends and social groups. Whether you meet up in person, or have a catch up over the phone or online, connecting with others is an easy way to feel happier this Blue Monday.
7. Prioritise sleep
Sleep and mental health are closely intertwined, with 7-9 hours of sleep a day proven to help improve your mood. Aim to get into a regular sleep routine, going to bed and getting up at the same time each day and avoid screens in the last half hour before bed, as the blue light prevents the production of the melatonin hormone, which aids rest.