Today – 15th January 2024 – is what is referred to as the most depressing day of the year. Yes, it’s Blue Monday.
The name given to the third Monday in January, Blue Monday has quickly become a day that everyone dreads. The concept of Blue Monday started in 2005 when defunct UK travel company, Sky Travel claimed to have calculated the most depressing date by measuring weather conditions, monthly salary, time since Christmas and the failure of resolutions and low motivation levels.
While Blue Monday is seen as a myth or pseudoscience, many people have reported that they experience heightened feelings of stress, anxiety, depression and sadness on Blue Monday. If you’re feeling these emotions today, here’s how to beat Blue Monday and the January blues with 7 mood-boosting activities to relieve stress and calm anxiety.
1. Move your body
One of the best ways to relieve stress is exercise. Whether you take a long walk, head to the gym or dance around your living room, moving your body has a positive effect on your mood. To paraphrase Elle Woods from Legally Blonde, exercise releases endorphins which makes you feel happier, helps you sleep better and acts as an outlet for letting go of frustrations or anxiety. For more exercise tips, check out T3’s guide to Get Fit for 2024.
2. Take in sunlight and fresh air
Taking in natural light and fresh air first thing in the morning and throughout the day has a positive effect on your mental and physical health. Research has shown that being in nature reduces feelings of anger, anxiety and stress, and improves your mood. Natural light is extremely important for regulating your circadian rhythm so you function more effectively during the day and sleep better at night. As the nights get dark earlier during the winter, you can simulate light by using the best wake up lights or invest in the best SAD lamps if you experience seasonal affective disorder.
3. Have a cold shower
Having a cold shower is probably the last thing you want to do if you’re feeling down but cold water therapy has been found to have a positive effect on mental health. According to UCLA Health, research suggests that cold water boosts your mood and decreases anxiety, along with other health benefits like better circulation, reduced inflammation and an increased metabolism. Taking a quick cold shower in the morning will give you that initial shock followed by a burst of energy which you can take with you through Blue Monday.
4. Limit screen time
While scrolling through Instagram might help you switch off and wind down, social media has been found to have a negative effect on mental health. It might be tempting to reach for your phone throughout the day, but it might make you feel more upset or anxious, especially if you’re seeing people you follow having the best time of their lives when you’re finding Blue Monday to be a struggle. Try limiting your screen time, especially before bed as it can disrupt your sleep schedule and make it harder for you to fall asleep.
5. Do an activity you enjoy
Monday is a work day for most people which probably isn’t helping with your feelings of stress and anxiety. After your work day has ended, take time away from your desk and do an activity that you enjoy. Focusing on yourself and doing something that makes you happy will help with the effects of Blue Monday. Reading, knitting, yoga, breathwork, journaling and cooking are just a few ideas of relaxing activities you can do.
6. Have a pamper
After a heavy Blue Monday, another way to take time for yourself is by having a pamper. Starting off the week by indulging in self-care will put you in a positive mood and make you feel taken care of. Put extra effort into your skincare routine, have a bath, paint your nails, relax with the best essential oils… the list goes on, but as long as you’re relaxed and happy, you’ve beaten Blue Monday!
7. Give yourself a break
Although many scientists have said that Blue Monday is a myth, it’s okay if you’re feeling a bit fragile today. But instead of beating yourself up about it, give yourself a break and just let yourself feel it if you need to. Take it easy, think positive thoughts and reach out to family and friends if you’re feeling overwhelmed.