Today, the so-called ‘Blue Monday’, is supposed to be the most depressing day of the year

Release Date: 16 January 2012

Source: Mental Health Foundation

Country: United Kingdom

It’s been suggested that today, the so-called ‘Blue Monday', is the most depressing day of the year.

Research shows that it’s not the actual day that gets people down and makes them feel gloomy but simply the shorter days and less sunlight we have in January and throughout the winter months.

If people do find themselves feeling low during the winter months, there are a number of steps that they can take to improve how they feel:

Exercise not only helps boost your energy levels and immune system, but it also causes the brain to release endorphins - naturally occurring chemicals that make us feel happier. If it’s too cold to exercise outside, indoor exercise such as going swimming or taking the stairs instead of the lift can be just as good for you. Read more about exercise and mental health

Eat well
Although you might feel more inclined to eat comfort food like chips or chocolate, eating plenty of oily fish like salmon and mackerel will be better for you in the long term. Oily fish contains omega-3 fatty acids, which can help to combat lethargy and low mood. Read more about diet and mental health

Be sociable
It can be tempting to stay tucked up at home when it’s cold outside, but being cut off from friends or family, or not having a social support network, can worsen your mood. Remember, however, that this requires more than just keeping in touch by email or Facebook. Face-to-face human contact prompts certain physiological responses in the brain that benefit our mental health in a way that technology-based contact doesn’t. While technology can help us keep in touch, it is no replacement for actually seeing our friends or family.

Join an interest/activity group
Joining a local sports club or a leisure group is a great way to meet some new people and to have regular contact with people who share similar interests or hobbies.

Join a support group
Your GP, local council or the Seasonal Affective Disorder Association (SADA) may be able to put you in contact with local support groups, where you can get advice and support from others who have gone through similar experiences.

Practice mindfulness
Evidence suggests that practicing mindfulness - a combination of meditation, yoga and breathing techniques - can improve your mood. Courses in mindfulness can be taken without GP prescription and therefore represent another way of improving how you feel even before you seek help. Find your local mindfulness practitioner or take our specially developed online course

Set yourself realistic goals
Lots of people set themselves New Year’s resolutions in January but many fall at the first hurdle which can demotivate them and impact on their emotional wellbeing. To help people achieve their resolutions, we’ve produced two new podcasts focusing on the most popular New Years’ resolutions and benefiting people’s mental health. Find out more

Get professional help
It can be particularly difficult during winter months for those who suffer from the symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). SAD is a form of depression that affects approximately 7 per cent of the British population between the months of September and April. It can be particularly severe during December, January and February. If your symptoms are so bad that you it impacts your day to day life, see your GP who can offer advice and prescribe from a range of talking therapies or medication if required. Find out more about SAD