By Emily Gray
Today is not only the 17th January or the third Monday of the month, it is also Blue Monday which is said to be the saddest day of the year.
It was back in 2005 that Sky Travel launched the idea of Blue Monday as a marketing tool to encourage us to book a holiday - it was based on Dr. Cliff Arnall’s findings that looked at a combination of factors such as the weather, the fact that pay day is still so far away and the festive season being over.
Blue Monday or not the last two years have been particularly stressful and it’s not surprising that many of us aren’t exactly feeling chipper. With that in mind, here are 15 ways to invest in your self care and brighten your day, Blue Monday or not.
Get More Sleep
Make sure you’re catching those z’s by getting enough sleep. A lack of sleep can have serious consequences on your physical and mental health from feeling short tempered, irritable and unproductive to decreasing your immunity and reducing your sex drive. Prioritise your sleep over one more episode, your phone and responding to one last “urgent” email.
Overhaul Your Morning Routine
Starting the day right can set you up for the day so get into a good morning routine. It’s a good idea to try and wake up at the same time everyday (even at weekends) to keep our body’s circadian rhythm consistent which will help us sleep better at night too. Once you’re up, make your bed, it’s a small but important task (watch Admiral William H.McRaven’s 2014 commencement address to find out why from 5:29), resist the urge to check your phone and instead nourish yourself with a good breakfast, take time to stretch and journal for five minutes too. Preparation is key so you’re not feeling flustered - get your clothes ready the night before and write your to-do list before you go to bed.
Ditch Your Phone
From better sleep, a more balanced work/life balance, to being more present in the moment and not comparing yourself to others, there’s a whole host of reasons to give yourself a digital detox for a few hours a day. Want to take it to the next level? Check out Unplugged for a 72 hour digital detox, giving you a chance to completely rest and recharge, free from notifications, spreadsheets and updates.
Fuel yourself with the right vitamins, minerals and antioxidants to keep your body and mind healthy. Smoothies are an easy way to pack in lots of nutrients quickly. If you’re short on time, consider signing up for a subscription with the Honestly Good Smoothie Company. They deliver blend-it yourself smoothie kits directly to your door, just keep them frozen until you’re ready to blend! Alternatively check out Get A Drip for an immediate boost of vitamins administered through an IV drip.
But Also Treat Yourself
Life is short and food is about enjoyment. Ditch the ‘good’ and ‘bad’ labels and make treats part of your balanced diet. If you want a fresh almond croissant for breakfast go for it.
Write a Letter
Spread a little joy and make someone else’s day by writing them a letter or sending a postcard just because. Want to invest in some beautiful, personalised stationery? We love Papier.
It can be easy to get caught up on what we don’t have rather than what we do, but when we take time to think about all the things that make up our day it can help us to feel more positive, compassionate and kinder. And it doesn’t have to be the big things either, it can be as small as the sun shining, talking to a friend, or a really good cup of coffee.
Take five minutes out of your day to meditate. It helps to clear your mind, reduce stress and anxiety and be more mindful. There are plenty of great apps you can try or if you’d like to try a meditation course, the London Meditation Centre teaches Vedic meditation in courses and workshops.
Fresh air and connecting nature can help guard against depression and gives you a little lift so make time to be outside every day. Go for a walk, brave the Hampstead Heath ponds for a swim, eat your lunch outside or leave London for a weekend in the countryside - just get outside for a bit!
You’re not always going to feel like your PT session or heading out for a long run or cycle and on those days try a more gentle form of exercise, like a yoga session tailored to your needs or a stroll through a park which ticks off the above point too.
Give to Others
Whether you donate to charity, volunteer, mentor or just pay for a stranger’s coffee, improving the lives of others not only helps them but it feels good, and gives us a greater sense of wellbeing too.
Listen to Something Happy
Sometimes you just need to crank up your favourite song, relisten to an album from a happy time in your life or put some upbeat music on and dance and sing it out. Other times it might be a podcast you turn to and when you do, find something inspiring, positive or just hilarious.
Have a Bath
Long day? Relieve tension and elevate your mood with a warm bath. The University of Freiburg in Germany actually did a study into the effects of baths and found that a daily 30 minute soak in a warm bath improved mental wellbeing. It also gives you a few minutes peace out of your hectic day…
Call a Friend
From helping us deal with stress, boosting our confidence and promoting a sense of belonging, having a group of friends and strong social ties is great for our overall well-being. Catch up with a friend today, grab a coffee and go for a walk in a park or if you’re isolating, call someone up. Texting might seem easier but a phone call is said to give us that connectedness that we are looking for and can lead us to forming stronger bonds.
One of the quickest ways to get a little boost of happiness is to smile. Research shows that the act of smiling triggers the brain to release endorphins, dopamine and serotonin, making us feel happier. Have a go at practicing a big, warm smile, whether it’s just to yourself or someone else and see if you feel the difference.