Blue Monday: Five ways to beat the blues on the most depressing day of the year
It is Blue Monday, supposedly the most depressing day of the year.
It may be useful to know that Blue Monday was in fact created in 2005 by a British holiday company. The idea was derived not from the results of any in-depth research, but instead by using a calculation involving such factors as current weather conditions and debt levels. However, while it had no basis in science, the idea caught on, and now many of us have come to dread it.
However, you could enjoy it - in different ways perhaps, but just as much as you would enjoy a warm summer’s day. How can that be possible?
First, because you’re in control here. You can choose either to believe that today will be grim and depressing - and that’s what you’ll look out for, so that’s what you’ll find - or you can choose to believe it will be a nice day, in which case you’ll more likely to notice the high points. And although I could offer some psychological research to back up what I am saying, there’s no need. This truth - which is, by the way, the core of most psychological therapies was first given to us not by a psychologist but by a playwright and poet.
In Act 2 of Hamlet, the Prince is talking to his two friends Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, complaining that for him, Denmark has become a prison. They don’t see it that way at all, and disagree. Hamlet then offers up the cure for his dark mood - although he declines to take it - when he replies: ‘Why, then, ‘tis none to you, for there is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so.’
It really is up to you whether you exist in a prison on Blue Monday, or you enjoy yourself. If you prefer the latter, here are some suggestions that might make things even better:
1 Capitalise on the light. Natural light helps stabilise serotonin and triggers endorphin, both mood-boosting hormones. See if you can get outside for at least ten minutes today. You could enhance the positive effects by combining your time outside with the second suggestion.
2 Take aerobic exercise. Any steady movement you enjoy—walking, jogging, swimming, cycling—boosts endorphins, and will leave you feeling calmer and happier. Your efforts may even mean you’ll include the next suggestion automatically.
3 Smile. When you smile, you release a cascade of feel-good chemicals in your brain. Your body relaxes, and blood pressure may be lowered. Smiling is contagious, too, so if you smile at others you’ll help them feel better as well.
4 Be grateful. Recent research has shown that when you take time to appreciate what you already have, you’ll feel more energetic and optimistic. Make a list of things you’re grateful for, and people you’re grateful you know.
5 Practice altruism. There’s a growing body of research that links altruistic behaviour with improved health and a greater sense of wellbeing. Offer someone a genuine compliment, and/or make a contribution to a charity.
Enjoy your day!