Typically, the third Monday of the year has been designated ‘Blue Monday’, allegedly the most depressing day of the year. This year it falls on 17th January. By ‘Blue Monday’ most of us will have broken our new year’s resolutions and the majority of us still have at least another week or more until we get paid. You can get why it might not be the most optimistic of times.
What you eat and drink, however, can go a long way to improving how you feel – including foods that are said to trigger the release of feel-good hormones dopamine and serotonin.
Dr Meg Arroll, a chartered psychologist working with Healthspan says, “We may dread winter and January, but If you continually tell yourself how horrible it is, chances are it will feel grim. Try and change your internal monologue about this time of year.’
7am – Don’t hit the snooze button
Not easy, as much as we hate getting out of bed on a Monday morning science says it’s not good for us as it isn’t helping our bodies get the restorative sleep that we need because the short sleep we get isn’t quality sleep and just makes us feel groggy.
7.30am – Start with deep breathing
Tune in to Stuart at Breathpod – Instagram @Breathpod and start your day with some deep breathing. If his amazing smile doesn’t cheer you up the breathing classes are a phenomenal way to relieve anxiety, get focused, improve concentration and it’s an effective therapy for a range of other conditions.
8am – Start your day with movement
Exercise not only helps the body, but is the best medicine for the mind but if you find exercising difficult in the morning, or you can’t continue because of muscle soreness, then Clinical pharmacist, Mike Wakeman from curranz.com provides the latest on new research on the benefits of blackcurrants. He says; “So what the researchers found was that blackcurrant extract helps make exercising easier as well as helping people exercise for longer without realising it. A study showed that runners supplemented the New Zealand blackcurrant extract, CurraNZ were able to run up to 15% further before reaching exhaustion in a high-intensity, intermittent running18 test.”
9am – Top up on vitamin D
One -third of us blame the dark mornings and night for why we feel sad in winter and vitamin D deficiency we know now has a role to play in affecting our mood. Dr Meg, says; “Even though there may not be a firm consensus over the precise cause of winter depression, we do know that vitamin D deficiency is associated with low mood.` Don’t forget to take your vitamin D on Blue Monday to help combat the sadness. ’Vitamin D now comes in many different forms such as supplement, sprays and a delicious gummy format e.g. Healthspan Vitamin D3 Apple & Blackcurrant Gummies , 90 gummies £10.95.
10am Have a word with yourself
There is no ‘science’ behind the whole idea of Blue Monday and it is entirely normal to feel a bit down about going back to work after the Christmas break. As Psychologist Dr Arroll points out, ‘We may dread winter and January, but If you continually tell yourself how horrible it is, chances are it will feel grim. Try and change your internal monologue about this time of year.’
11am Crack a smile
If you’re someone who feels low when it’s cold and grey, try cracking a smile. Dr Uchenna Okoye, LondonSmiling.com says; “Research has shown that consciously activating your smile muscles lowers the stress response and releases happy chemicals in the brain just as effectively as a spontaneous smile.” Keep smiling, it really will make you feel better.
1pm – Ditch the stodge
Rob Hobson, Healthspan Head of Nutrition says, “Diet may be liked to mood in several ways including the nutrient quality, food choice and even the rate at which the body demands certain nutrients associated with the central nervous system.
First and foremost, it’s important to eat nourishing meals regularly throughout the day and in some cases, this may include eating little and often if your blues are making you anxious. While stodgy food may give you comfort you are better equipped to deal with low mood if you eat nutrient rich meals.
Specific nutrients linked to mood include B vitamins and magnesium which are involved in the conversion of food into energy but also depleted more rapidly when stressed. Try including foods rich in these nutrients which includes dark green leafy veggies, nuts, seeds, beans, pulses, lentils, wholegrains, oily fish. eggs and poultry.
The best blue Monday breakfast is something like eggs on wholegrain toast and lunch/dinner options could include chicken salad or wholegrain pasta with salmon and pesto.”
3pm – Rehydrate
Alison Cullen A.Vogel Practice Nutritionist says, “Dehydration is under-estimated and contributes to a surprising amount to fatigue, so drink plenty of still water. Cut back on caffeinated drinks as these deplete energy-supporting nutrients such as iron, magnesium and B vitamins. In addition, if you suffer from heavy periods, ask your GP to check your iron levels.” If feeling super fatigued try A.Vogel Balance Mineral Drink (7 x 5.5g £7.25, www.avogel.co.uk). “This provides a fast top-up of important nutrients that get straight to work on restoring energy,” she says.
5pm – Trigger your serotonin
Preclinical studies suggest that turmeric raises brain levels of serotonin so have a turmeric latte to perk you up. Another serotonin booster is Dark Chocolate so treat yourself to a few squares, too.
6pm – Eat feel good ingredients
“Foods that are rich in magnesium and/or B vitamins which are involved with the production of the sleep hormone melatonin (good sources of magnesium include nuts and seeds, avocadoes, pulses, bananas and leafy greens and you will find B vitamins in meat, seafood, dairy products as well as tofu , green vegetable stir fry, spicy red lentil soup so all good options to eat pre-bedtime.” Says, Rob Hobson who is also the author of The Art of Sleeping.
7pm – Set boundaries with social media
Don’t spend your evening doom scrolling. Passive social media use can increase anxiety, negatively affect body image and dampen mood. It can also be a time vortex, so do set and keep to your boundaries with social media use.
8pm – Take time to pamper
Dr Arroll advises; “Not only will the rise in body temperature bathing creates help you fall asleep faster, but baths also make you happier than showers, research from Japan has found.” Plus, it also helps ease muscle tension and induce melatonin production which helps you fall asleep. “I really like to soak in a bath with Healthspan Magnesium Flakes Bath Soak, (1kg, £8.95) it makes it feel like a ritual, setting your bath up exactly how you like it so you can just soak and relax. Rituals are also fantastic for making us feel grounded and it’s all about giving yourself some mental space and time in the bath.” Says Dr Meg.
9pm – Wind downtime
Dr Arrol says, “It’s never too late to create a bedtime ritual, even if you’ve struggled with sleep for a long time. We can develop a good pattern to wind- down and relax before going to bed, which will lull us into a sound sleep. Then, 60-90 minutes before your bedtime start to engage in activities that are part of your wind-down. Set an alarm if you need to at the beginning of this habit change to remind you to start your bedtime routine.”
10pm –sleep like a mushroom
Get your bedtime environment ready says Professor Margareta James, from the Harley Street Wellbeing Clinic, “My night-time advice is to: Sleep like a mushroom – in a dark, cool environment, with muted, calming lights and strictly no screens in the bedroom; get to bed by 10pm. As the old wives tale suggest, every hour sleep you get before midnight has twice the benefit, and research has confirmed this; get up the same time every day, including weekends – it helps your body reset your body’s natural clock.”
If you found How to turn Blue Monday into Sunny Monday helpful, you’ll find loads more health and wellbeing tips for older people on our Health channel.Tags: Blue Monday, Dr Meg Arroll Last modified: January 17, 2022