Typically falling on the third Monday in January, Blue Monday is reputedly the most depressing day of the year.
Why? Because the joys of the festive period have faded, the weather is awful (at least in the northern hemisphere), our New Year resolutions have probably already failed and we’re unlikely to have any holidays coming up any time soon – the latter is especially true this year, of course.
While the origins of Blue Monday are somewhat murky (the psychologist credited with the formula to determine the date has since distanced himself from the concept), there’s no denying there are plenty of reasons to feel down in the dumps this January.
There’s no need to surrender completely to the gloom, however. There are lots of things you can do to bring a bit of brightness during dark times.
Here are some simple ways to boost your mood on Blue Monday…
1. Head outdoors
It may be chilly outside, but a brisk walk and a blast of sunlight (even the weak winter kind) is preferable to being cooped up indoors all day.
2. Put on some tunes
Do you usually wake up to talk radio? Try swapping the daily news for some uplifting tunes, crank up the volume and belt your heart out in the shower. Need some new music inspiration? Spotify’s Hot Hits playlist offers a fab, pop-tastic selection.
3. Try a dance challenge
If you’ve yet to discover the joys of a TikTok dance challenge, now’s your chance. Get the whole family involved in the ‘Something New’ challenge or ask a savvy friend to teach you the ‘Toosie Slide’ over video call. Even if you can’t master the moves, just having a go will inevitably lead to hilarity.
4. Discover a new podcast
Even regular podcast listeners can get bored of having the same shows on rotation – finding a new favourite to binge is delightful.
Our top picks from 2020 include My Year in Mensa, in which Jamie Loftus chronicles her experience of the high IQ society; hilarious celeb interviews on SmartLess, hosted by comedy kings Jason Bateman, Will Arnett and Sean Hayes; and Oprah’s SuperSoul Conversations, which includes fascinating interviews from Winfrey’s vast TV talk show archive.
5. Indulge in retail therapy
With lots of January sales still in full swing you don’t need to break the bank to get a dopamine boost from a bit of digital retail therapy. Head to your favourite online shop, set the filter to ‘price: low to high’ and see if you can bag a bargain.
6. Try a new recipe
Have a flick through your old cookbooks or browse online to find a new recipe you haven’t tried before. It could be a yummy pasta dish, a hearty soup or a batch of super-easy 3 Ingredient Nutella Cookies that fills your kitchen with a wonderful chocolatey aroma.
7. Do a good deed
As much as we all love indulging in fun and feel-good pastimes, it’s well known that you can actually reap huge emotional rewards by partaking in a good deed.
It doesn’t have to be something big. Ringing a friend who you know has been having tough time, sending a little gift in the post to a loved one, or sharing some of those cookies you baked with your neighbours.
8. Plan something fun for the future
Arguably there are two types of pleasure: anticipatory (when you derive joy from looking forward to something) and consummatory (when you actually do the thing you’ve been looking forward to).
Bring some anticipatory pleasure into your life by making plans for the future, even if they’re a long way off. You could book a week of annual leave from work, put a date in the diary for a walk with a friend or pre-order some of the big novels coming out this year; it’ll be a nice gift to yourself when they eventually come through the letterbox.
9. Treat it like a Friday night
Instead of compiling a life admin to-do list like you usually would on a Monday, pretend it’s the weekend instead. Forget the chores, get your favourite takeaway food delivered (or try a meal kit from a local restaurant) then watch a movie and indulge in some tasty snacks.
10. Laugh out loud
Laughter is, as they say, the best medicine, so get on the phone to the one person who’s guaranteed to crack you up or watch a comedy special on Netflix from the likes of Donald Glover or Amy Schumer.
11. Light a fire
If you’re lucky enough to have a hearth at home, light it up and sit back with a hot chocolate and a good book, and enjoy the crackling of the logs.
Haven’t got a real fire? No problem. With the Fireplace For Your Home series you can watch – and listen – as a real log fire glows on your TV set.
12. Have a bubble bath
Sink into a soothing bath to feel your worries (and muscle knots) melt away. Take the time to create the perfect set-up with candles, bubble bath or a fizzing bath bomb, relaxing music and your choice of beverage. Most importantly, make sure no one is going to disturb your tub time.
13. Sleep in fresh sheets
There’s something so wonderful about slipping between freshly laundered sheets at the end of a long day. Add fresh PJs to the mix and you’ve got the perfect final treat to round off your (not so) Blue Monday.
If you are affected by any issue relating to depression or anxiety, please contact Pieta House on 1800-247247 or the Samaritans by telephoning 116 123 (free) or by emailing [email protected]