Tips to ensure 'Blue Monday' does not get you down

News

Date: 16th Jan 2017

Today (16 January) is 'Blue Monday', the third Monday in January which is supposedly the most miserable day of the year.

Dr Piers Worth, Reader in Psychology and co-lead of the Master's in Applied Positive Psychology at Buckinghamshire New University, has some tips and advice to ensure the day does not get people down.

He said: "Although 16 January has been labelled as 'Blue Monday' that doesn't mean it has to get you down. Don't be persuaded that you feel blue, instead seize control and take time to make small changes to the way you think and put an end to that Monday morning feeling for the rest of the year. Choose one or more of these tips that resonate with you as research shows they will help to a create a long-term change in your mood."

"Breathe: Spend a few minutes each day taking a few slow, deep breaths. Deep breathing helps us to relax and reduces stress. It is also good for our physical health as it increases the amount of oxygen in our blood.

"Learn something new: Learning increases self-efficacy and builds up self-confidence. It may also encourage us to be creative and inventive. Make a list of things to achieve during the year and enjoy the process of crossing them off the list. They don't have to be difficult like learning a new language unless this is something you'd like to do. Consider things like learning how to crochet, joining a choir or drama group, improve your swimming stroke, or read a book of interest.

"Get moving: People who exercise are less likely to suffer from depression. The secret is to find something you love doing. It may be playing with your children, gardening, or dancing - you don't need to join a gym. There is a strong correlation between health and happiness.

"Be sociable: Connect with people whenever you can. Invest in your relationships and take time to keep in touch. Even conversations you have when shopping or travelling on public transport can improve your mood and experience of positive emotions.

"Be kind: Find ways to be kind. You might shop for a neighbour or volunteer some of your free time, walk someone's dog or pick up rubbish in the park. Research has found that people who engage in acts of kindness see an improvement in their health and general wellbeing.

"Slow down and savour life: We rush through our day. We eat, drink, absorb, notice things that are of high quality but because we rush we often don't notice them. Slow down. Allow yourself to savour and enjoy experiences. Start simply, try a piece of chocolate and enjoy it slowly.

"Think about three good things:  Focus on 'three good things' that happened during the day. This could be anything - from nature, birdsong, the sunrise, friends, and more. Research tells us that if we make a habit of thinking good things, our mood will become more positive.

"Say 'thank you' and be interested in others: Take time to notice things about which you might feel grateful. If there is someone who has made a big difference to you, it could be a good time to say, or write a 'thank you' to them, and say why. When others tell you of their good experiences, be interested. Pay attention and ask questions as experience suggests this strengthens and builds our relationships with those around us.

"Focus on you at your best: This could be a time, an experience, a memory of when you might have been at your best. People come up with very different answers to this question, so let yourself imagine what your memory and answer might be.

"Develop and build on your strengths: Research suggests that about two-thirds of us are unable to describe the strengths we have. You can find out more by completing a questionnaire at www.viacharacter.org. Think of new ways in which you might use that aspect of you which is a strength. This takes you out of your way of behaving now and asks you to consider how you might develop.