Blue Monday is thought to be the most depressing day of the entire year. Falling on the third Monday of January, many people are still broke from Christmas, failing at their New Year resolutions and in the full swing of being back at the 9 to 5.
Blue Monday highlights the growing mental health crisis in Britain. Around 1 in 5 Brits show symptoms of depression and in 2019, prescriptions for anti-depressants reached an all time high.
The idea of ‘Blue Monday’ isn’t actually scientifically sound – it was devised as a marketing ploy to get people to book their summer holidays when fed up of the cold and grey weather. However, the winter blues are certainly an issue that many of us face. So what changes do we need to make in our lives to improve our general wellbeing? Here are four tips on where to start.
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Getting out into nature is the most natural anti-depressant there is. Studies have shown that time just 20 to 30 minutes spent in nature will significantly lower levels of stress hormones which can eventually lead to depression if untreated. While it can seem unappealing to go outside when the weather is so cold and miserable, wrapping up warm and heading out to your nearest park is a sure way to boost your mood and remove your mind from the busy and hectic stresses of everyday life.
While the thought may be unpleasant, the risk of depression falls 17 percent with every 30 minutes of physical activity you do. Just three hours of any form of exercise a week can significantly boost your mood. If you need more proof, a new study published in November by researchers at Harvard University, looked at the lifestyle habits of 8000 men and women. They found that those who were physically active had less risk of anxiety and depression than those who barely moved.
Get some light
In the dead of winter, many of us suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), which is characterised as a low mood in the winter months due to the lack of sunlight. While this can be hard to live with, there are things you can do to help. Small changes such as opening the curtains (if it’s light outside) in the morning while you eat breakfast, and getting outside during the day at work so you can ensure you are getting the most sunlight possible. If your SAD is more serious, and these techniques aren’t helping, it might be worth considering investing in a light box, which mimicks the light given off by the sun. Look for a strength of 10,000 lux.
Make time for friends
While it is tempting to hibernate and hide from the cold weather at home, meeting with friends is a sure way to boost your mood. Depression can make us feel like cutting people out because we think we don’t want the company – however, even if you don’t feel like socialising, meeting a friend for a coffee or a chat will help you feel less isolatied and remind you of the people around to support you.
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