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10 Tips to Beat Blue Monday Depression
This entry was posted on 20/01/2014.
The Monday of the last full week of January has, since 2005, been declared ‘Blue Monday’; the most depressing day of the year. Scientific studies have claimed that a combination of bad weather, post-Christmas debt and a loss of motivation to stick to New Year’s resolutions makes us feel particularly down in the dumps on this day.
You may be thinking ‘what a load of rubbish…’ And you’d be right. Blue Monday was a clever publicity stunt created by Sky Travel, and the ‘formula’ used to figure out the nation’s happiness levels was simply pseudoscience, or in other words, nonsense.
However, even if there isn’t a Blue Monday, many of us admit that throughout January we feel a little more glum than usual. After the sparkly joy of Christmas and New Year, January can seem very drab and dull in comparison, especially with summer so far away.
Here are a few tips to help you combat the January Blues:
1. Get out in the fresh air. Even just a quick walk round the block in your lunch break will blow away the cobwebs and help you to feel more refreshed. Plus, any extra glimpse of daylight is a bonus.
2. Change your diet. It’s tempting to fill up on carbs and sugar in the winter months, but studies have found that low mood is linked to a lack of omega-3 fatty acids in your diet.  Opt for oily fish, nuts and seeds which are all rich in omega-3. Alternatively try cod liver oil or flaxseed oil supplements.
3. Give up alcohol. After the overindulgence of Christmas your liver could do with the break, but alcohol is a depressant and may be contributing to your low mood.  Cut it out for the month and you should see an improvement in your mood.
4. Have post-Christmas get-togethers. One of the best things about Christmas is seeing your nearest and dearest, but after the festive season is over we’re spent up and back at work; socialising no longer becomes a priority. We always feel better for seeing our loved ones so make an extra effort to socialise during January.
5. Take a Vitamin D supplement. We get Vitamin D from the sun, so in winter its common to become deficient due to shorter daylight hours and the dreary dull weather. Lots of metabolic processes in the body require Vitamin D so by taking a supplement in winter you can boost your health and your mood. Our SunVit-D3 capsules contain 25mcg of pure Vitamin D which is just perfect for most. However, if you think you may have a deficiency that is effecting your health in other ways, your health specialist may recommend stronger D3 supplements.
6. Try SAD light therapy. One of the biggest reasons for feeling down during winter is a result of the lack of daylight. The days are shorter and we tend to spend more time indoors, so our exposure to natural light is dramatically reduced. Daylight helps to increase serotonin levels in our brain which makes us feel happy, so in winter it is common to feel down as a result of there being less daylight. High level light therapy stimulates the photoreceptors in your brain and mimics the mood-lifting effects of daylight and sunshine. SAD light therapy is a clinically proven method for treating Seasonal Effective Disorder and is often favoured by doctors as there are no dramatic side effects like there are with antidepressants.
7. Book a holiday or plan other trips. Having something to look forward to will help you forget about the gloomy January weather, particularly if you plan to go somewhere lovely and sunny.
8. Exercise. Not only will it help you get back in shape for your summer holiday, it will also improve your mood; clinical studies have found that the symptoms of depression are reduced with regular exercise. Hit the gym or take up a new exercise class, or simply go out walking on a regular basis.
9. Sort out your sleep pattern. Studies show that 7-9 hours of sleep each night is the optimum amount for your body and brain to function normally; any more or less and you could feel drowsy throughout the day and unable to function as well. There are also links between depression and lack of sleep, so getting a solid 7-9 hours sleep each night could help you keep the blues at bay.
10. Take some time for yourself. After the stress of creating a perfect Christmas for our loved ones we can feel completely burned out by January, so take some you-time. Enjoy an indulgent bath, lose yourself in a book and spend some time thinking about what you want from the new year.
 Parker G, Gibson NA, Brotchie H, Heruc G, Rees AM, Hadzi-Pavlovic D, ‘Omega-3 fatty acids and mood disorders’,,Am J Psychiatry, http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16741195
 Joshua Gowin, ‘Your Brain on Alcohol’, Psychology Today, http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/you-illuminated/201006/your-brain-alcohol
 ‘Vitamins and minerals – Vitamin D’, NHS Choices, http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/vitamins-minerals/Pages/Vitamin-D.aspx
 ‘Light Therapies for Depression’, PsychEducation.org, http://www.psycheducation.org/depression/LightTherapy.htm#evidence
 Hoffman JM, Bell KR, Powell JM, Behr J, Dunn EC, Dikmen S, Bombardier CH, ‘A randomized controlled trial of exercise to improve mood after traumatic brain injury’, US National Library of Medicine, http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20970760
 ‘How Much Sleep Do We Really Need?’, National Sleep Foundation, http://www.sleepfoundation.org/article/how-sleep-works/how-much-sleep-do-we-really-need