Feeling a bit low and flat after all the hype and celebrations over Christmas and the new year? Then you are not alone. The third Monday is January has been awarded the title of Blue Monday – a combination of post-Christmas blues, unpaid credit card bills arriving and cold dark nights. It might also be due to not keeping to new year’s resolutions that you’ve made with good intentions.
Although this date now receives much publicity and is recognised by many, it was all started by a PR stunt in 2005. A travel company, Sky Travel claimed this date had been identified as the most depressing by a professor who used a unique formula to arrive at the date.
Many experts dismiss Blue Monday and remind us that depression is a serious condition that can affect people on any day. Dr Martin Carroll, Clinical Psychologist tells us “Many of us can feel low through the dark months of the year. So, don’t worry, if you continue to follow your New Year resolutions and feel good about how you are living your life.”
1 in 6 people will experience depression during their life. It can be extremely debilitating. It is important to remember that depression is different from feeling down or sad. Unhappiness is something that everyone feels at some time. Symptoms of depression include low mood, but also low levels of energy and other indications, such as changes in appetite, concentration difficulties, low self-esteem and hopelessness about the future. Furthermore, for depression to be considered a significant problem warranting treatment it must persist for at least two weeks. If you are suffering from depression, then it is a serious problem and needs to be addressed. Fortunately, there are both medications and psychological therapies that can help.
If you are concerned about yourself, a family member or friend, it is best to speak to your GP in the first instance.
If you are feeling a bit blue there are several things you can try to help lift your mood:
Exercise reduces stress hormones and allows you to sleep more deeply leaving you feeling refreshed and ready for the day ahead.
Sunlight can boost the amount of serotonin in the body. In the winter months the amount of serotonin in the body can dip due to shorter days so it’s important to get outside as much as possible. Even going out during your lunch break can make a difference.
Eating foods that promote serotonin can also help. The winter leaves us craving carbohydrates, these are an important part of our diet but it’s vital we strike the balance. If you feel the need to snack fill up on foods such as walnuts, bananas and tomatoes, these all contain serotonin and can help lift your mood.
Take a Nap
Taking a quick power nap can be helpful. The nap should last between 10 and 20 minutes and be taken when you start to feel sleepy or when you begin to lose concentration. Many people have a dip in energy at about 3pm making this the natural time. Of course, this isn’t going to be appropriate for everyone – you may be at work or on the school run!
Be Tech Smart
Being constantly connected technology can cause a negative impact on your mood. It’s a good idea to switch off from emails and social media at least 90 minutes before going to bed. Instead read a book, listen to some music or have a relaxing bath. A regular wind down routine like this will help alleviate the feelings of anxiety and allow your mind to relax and help you have a good night’s sleep and prepare for the day ahead.