Did you know that this past Monday was widely considered to be the most depressing day of the year?
“Blue Monday”, a term coined in 2005 by life coach and happiness consultant Dr Cliff Arnall, is commonly observed on the third Monday of January, but it can also fall on the second or fourth Monday of the month.
That said, rather than letting doom and gloom get the better of you, being prepared and taking positive action can help get you through this – and any other – day.
Here are some ways to make your Blue Mondays to Sundays the brightest days of the year.
1. Prioritise sleep
Science says regular sleep can help you feel less stressed and happier. In fact, sleeping well is as beneficial to one’s physical health as it is to mental health.
Numerous studies conducted around the world have shown that a good night’s sleep – lasting between seven and nine hours – improves daily wellbeing.
However, health authorities have been warning for many years that people are sleeping less and less – and, even more worryingly, more poorly, which could lead to problems in learning, concentration and mood, and even depression symptoms.
So, it’s not just a matter of having a good night’s sleep the night before Blue Monday, but of doing everything possible to get quality rest on a regular basis, throughout the year, to improve general wellness.
2. Dogs and cats are a source of happiness
Perhaps you should look to your four-legged friends to help you fight stress and darker thoughts. Studies, surveys and testimonials all agree that pets, especially dogs and cats, are a source of happiness and contribute to reducing stress.
Researchers at Washington State University showed in 2019 that short interactions with dogs or cats can reduce certain tensions by significantly reducing levels of cortisol, the stress hormone.
According to them, just 10 minutes of petting, playing, or other interactions with these animals is enough to have a significant impact.
So, if you share your life with a furball, there’s no reason why Blue Monday should be less cheerful than any other day of the year.
3. Go blue to beat the blues
It’s often said that adding colour to our lives can help lift our spirits. But, contrary to popular belief, it’s not necessarily bright, flashy colours that will make people feel happier.
Blue is apparently the colour of happiness, which is surprising, considering that the most depressing day of the year is named Blue Monday.
A study conducted by researchers at England’s University of Sussex suggested that blue can stimulate happiness, reduce stress, and improve self-confidence. The shade cheers up both men and women, even if the former are equally happy with green, while the latter also find happiness in purple and orange.
So, to keep the blues at bay, try adding a splash of blue to your life!
4. Seek solace in nature
It can never be said enough that nature is full of mental health benefits. Scientists are unanimous on the subject, and numerous studies have been conducted since the beginning of the pandemic to show how essential it is to spend time in green spaces to reduce stress, anxiety and depression.
Published in the journal “Public Health in Practice”, the latest study was conducted by researchers at the University of Tsukuba in Japan. It reveals that getting some fresh air in the forest or in green spaces, at least once a week, could reduce work-related stress and help people better manage the pressures of daily life.
So, while your boss is unlikely to send you to the countryside on Blue Monday, you’re strongly encouraged to take a walk in the wilderness the evening before to recharge your batteries and lift your spirits.