Practical strategies to turn Blue Monday into Happy Monday

Here we go again… inevitably January and February are tough months for our mood. I am no exception and, as a Mediterranean person, I feel the January blues. Blue Monday – this year on 15 January 2024 – is considered the gloomiest day of the year. It is scientifically proven that it coincides with the prevalence of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), affecting up to 2 million people in the UK annually. London Mums share practical lifestyle changes to address mood, sleep, physical health, and overall well-being. We have tried and tested all these tips and the great news is that you don’t need to spend any money to make yourself happy.

monica costa happy smile at Trevi fountain in Rome

My happy smile at Trevi Fountain in Rome

  1. Hydration: Stay hydrated throughout the day by drinking an adequate amount of water. Dehydration can impact energy levels and mood. Herbal teas, warm water with lemon, or infused water can add variety and contribute to your daily fluid intake.
  2. Balanced Nutrition: Pay attention to your diet, ensuring it includes a variety of nutrient-rich foods. Omega-3 fatty acids found in fish, nuts, and seeds are known for their mood-enhancing properties. Additionally, increase your intake of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains for overall well-being.
  3. Mindful Movement: Incorporate mindful movement into your routine, such as yoga or tai chi. These practices not only enhance physical well-being but also promote relaxation and stress reduction. Attend local classes or follow online sessions to establish a consistent practice.
  4. Physical Exercise: Incorporate regular physical exercise into your routine. Exercise releases endorphins, which are natural mood lifters. Whether it’s a brisk walk, a dance class, or a home workout routine, find activities you enjoy to make exercise a consistent part of your week.
  5. Strategic Sunlight Exposure: Combat the winter blues by spending 10-15 minutes outdoors daily before noon, facing east in the morning and west during sunset. Natural light influences hormone production, regulating mood and sleep patterns. This practice proves effective even in cloudy weather, as sunlight penetrates through clouds.
  6. Aromatherapy and Essential Oils: Utilise aromatherapy to influence mood positively. Scents like lavender, citrus, and peppermint can uplift spirits and create a calming atmosphere. Consider using essential oil diffusers, candles, or incorporating these scents into your skincare routine.
  7. Grounding (Earthing): Connect with the Earth’s surface to absorb its natural electrical charge, known as grounding. This practice, proven to reduce inflammation and manage stress, involves bare skin contact with grass, sand, or mud. In winter, alternatives include touching a tree or your pet while standing on natural surfaces or wearing grounded shoes for at least 20 minutes daily.
  8. Creative Expression: Engage in creative activities to express yourself and boost your mood. Whether it’s painting, writing, or crafting, creative expression can serve as a therapeutic outlet. Join local workshops or online communities to share your creations and connect with like-minded individuals.
  9. Light Therapy Lamps: In addition to natural sunlight exposure, consider using light therapy lamps. These lamps mimic natural sunlight and can be particularly beneficial during the darker winter months.
  10. Connections: Contrary to isolating oneself during SAD symptoms, nurture connections with friends, family, or support groups. Engage in social activities to foster a sense of connection and belonging, serving as a powerful antidote to the winter blues. These interactions provide emotional support and a reminder that you’re not alone in facing SAD.
  11. Gratitude Practice: Cultivate a daily gratitude practice by reflecting on positive aspects of your life. Consider keeping a gratitude journal to jot down things you’re thankful for. This practice can shift focus towards positive elements, contributing to an improved mindset.
  12. Technology Breaks: Schedule regular breaks from technology, especially social media. Excessive screen time can contribute to feelings of isolation and negatively impact mental health. Allocate time for offline activities, fostering a healthier balance in your daily life.
  13. Bedtime Routine: Establish a consistent bedtime routine by going to bed at the same time every night. Disconnect from electronic devices, turn off lights, and create a calming environment. This simple adjustment regulates circadian rhythms, stabilising hormone production, leading to improved sleep quality, stabilised mood, and enhanced mental health.
  14. Quality Sleep Hygiene: Enhance your sleep hygiene by creating an optimal sleep environment. Invest in blackout curtains, maintain a comfortable room temperature, and ensure your mattress and pillows provide adequate support. Quality sleep is fundamental to overall well-being.Remember, implementing a combination of these strategies tailored to your preferences and lifestyle can contribute to a more positive and uplifting experience, not only on Blue Monday but throughout the winter season. While these practical tips offer a holistic approach to combat the winter blues, severe SAD cases necessitate professional evaluation and treatment. If experiencing severe symptoms, consult with a GP for guidance and appropriate care. Turning Blue Monday into Happy Monday involves adopting a comprehensive approach to health and well-being.

 

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