‘Blue Monday’ claimed to be the most depressing day of the year

Release Date: 20 January 2014

Source: Mental Health Foundation

Country: United Kingdom

Some claim that ‘Blue Monday’ is the most depressing day of the year.

However evidence shows that many people find that their mood dips in January because of shorter days and less sunlight. If people do find themselves feeling down during winter, some simple changes can improve how they feel:

Exercise not only improves your energy levels and immune system, but it also triggers your brain to release endorphins - naturally occurring chemicals that make us feel happier. If it’s too cold to exercise outside, take up indoor exercise such as going swimming or taking the stairs instead of the lift which can be just as beneficial for your mental health.

•         Find out more about how exercise affects your mental health
•         Listen or download our special exercise podcast that will teach you some methods to help you create and stick to a programme of regular exercise

Eat well
Although you might feel tempted to eat comfort food like chips or chocolate, a diet rich in omega-3 oily fish like salmon and mackerel will be better for you in the long term and can help to combat lethargy and low mood.
•         Find out more about diet and mental health
•         Listen or download our special diet podcast that teaches techniques to help make small changes to your eating habits and improve your overall mental and physical wellbeing.

Be sociable
Staying tucked up at home when it’s cold outside can be appealing, but being cut off from friends or family, or not having a social support network, can make your mood worse. Remember, however, that this requires more than just keeping in touch by email or Facebook. Face-to-face human contact stimulates 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.
•         Find out more about keeping and touch

Join an interest/activity group
Joining a local sports club or a leisure group allows 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
Research 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 can improve how you feel even before you seek help.

•         Find your local mindfulness practitioner
•         Take our specially developed online course

Set yourself realistic goals - especially at New Year
Lots of people set themselves New Year’s resolutions in January but might not stick to them which can be demotivating and impact on their emotional wellbeing. To help people achieve their resolutions, try our two podcasts focusing on the most popular New Years’ resolutions.

Get professional help        
Winter months can be difficult 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.

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