11 January 2019
The whole of December was a build up to a huge climax towards Xmas and New Year and many were probably living life at 100mph with all the excitement of Christmas shopping, getting gifts and looking forward to spending some quality time with family. The evidence is increasingly showing that all this sensory overload and abundance of stimuli often results in detrimental physical and mental health symptoms we often term as the “January blues” which inevitably often lead to “Blue Monday”. Mental health does not take time off during or after Christmas, which is why I think it might be of help to some if I can share some handy practical and easy tips on how to combat Blue Monday.
After having served 8 years in the British Army Artillery regiment and done tours to very volatile parts of the world, I understand a thing or two about transitioning from a highly emotionally charged environment to coming back to “normal”, and I am talking from experience when I say that can be very daunting, to say the least. But here is the silver lining, you don’t need to put yourself through the wringer because just like coming from Christmas getting into the New Year, life comes in cycles, and as such, it is very important to care for your wellbeing in readiness of the new season. Here is my Blue Monday survival guide with 6 amazing and unbelievably effective tips.
So, you have dipped into your overdraft and maxed out your credit cards on drinks, food and presents; the bank of mom and dad is temporarily shut; your next student loan is not due for another few more weeks; and finally, another year of assignments and exams is beckoning. So what? Yes! ask yourself a big, SO WHAT? My advice is to learn to appreciate the "norm" and focus your awareness on the present, while also calmly acknowledging and accepting your feelings and thoughts. Take a moment to note down all the things you appreciate but take for granted. You are in 2019! And you are still breathing, ultimately you have people who love you. When you just focus on the present, it's never as bad as you imagine. Accept the things you cannot change, have the courage to act on the things you can change and the MINDFULNESS to know the difference.
2. Get outside:
Going for a walk even if it is just around the block and breathing in fresh oxygen and absorbing all that wintery sunlight light can do wonders for your mental state. There is something about nature that just brings about a wholesome experience for your mind, body and soul. Taking a walk boosts endorphin production, which are feel-good hormones that alleviate your mood as well as lower your stress levels and mild depression. Just 30 minutes a day of brisk walking outside works like magic!
3. Hit the Gym:
Remember the endorphin boost from the nature walk and how brilliant it is at making us feel indestructible? Well, a 20-minute blitz in the gym will give you a quick burst of that natural high. But if 20 minutes slugging away on the treadmill is too much for you, maybe treating yourself to a sauna might also help you feel amazing with less the effort.
4. Try Eating Healthy:
Whilst it is fine to have a bit of culinary overindulgence over the festive period as it makes us feel good, don’t forget that the come down from excessive binge eating often leaves us with energy lows and feeling irritable and inevitably affecting our mood and motivation. Blue Monday is the perfect time to give your gut a bit of a breather and let your body do some “house cleaning” by drinking plenty of water and lots of fruit and vegetables. Basically, try making Blue Monday week a Vegan week, I promise it will not kill you.
5. Booze free week:
I think its safe to assume that the occasional festive tipple is well outside the recommended national guidelines and as such, so are its negative effects on mood. So, having a booze-free Blue Monday week will give your body some much-needed respite.
6. Get Planning:
If you still feel like you are stuck in a rut, use the dark and miserable moments to make plans for the rest of the year and watch out for that 90:10 principle which states that 10% of your mental state depends on what's happening to and around you while the other 90% depends on how you respond and deal with these events. Make a conscious effort and choice to be and think positive during Blue Monday.
If you can't FLY, then RUN; If you can't run, then WALK;. And if you can't walk, then Crawl, but whatever you do, by all means; keep moving! - Martin Luther King
Happy New Year!