When Blue Monday comes to mind, the first thought might be ‘ the most depressing day of the year’. Christmas is now over, it’s dark during your daily commute and you might be feeling the strains of post-Christmas debt. Believe it or not, Blue Monday is simply a myth so it’s important to be kind to yourself.
The fact is, Blue Monday is a PR stunt that was created to sell holidays. There is no scientific evidence that the third Monday of the year is the most ‘depressing’ day. Everyone’s circumstances are different, it would be a challenge to identify when the most ‘depressing’ day of the year is.
Blue Monday is the new self-care day. Perhaps this is your reminder to look after your own mental health.
Thrive Psychologist Naumenko shares five ways you can look after your mental health this Blue Monday:
1. You can still achieve those new year’s resolutions.
When it comes to new years resolutions, If you haven’t started 2022 as you’d planned, don’t forget there’s plenty of time for you to get back on track. Maybe, the expectations you have set for yourself are too high, be kind to yourself and let yourself start smaller.
If your goal feels meaningful but you struggle to start doing anything to achieve it, try this exercise. Imagine that you have already reached that goal. Use your imagination, let it run wild and use all your senses. Close your eyes and see yourself at that marathon finish line. What do you see? What do you hear? How does it make you feel? What emotions are you experiencing? Spend some time in this state – don’t rush yourself. These feelings and emotions are the real things you are after. Now, think of all the different ways to get there, no matter how big or small.
2. Do something physical
The single best thing to relieve stress is any kind of physical activity. Go jogging, walking, swimming, climbing, kickboxing, yoga – anything physical you enjoy doing. It’s the most natural way to remove all excessive hormones and their byproducts from your body (this is what your body would do for itself if you ran from your sabre tooth tiger or fought that grizzly bear).
The next best thing to alleviate stress is anything that can facilitate the release of negative emotions and bring you to a calmer and more peaceful state – deep muscle relaxation, meditation, a hot bath or a creative outlet to express your feelings (blog writing, drawing, crocheting, making pottery – again, anything you enjoy).
4. Plan and prioritise your self-care for 2022
Make those self-care events “recurring and with no end date” and treat them with utmost importance. Once you have enjoyed one small thing for yourself, think about how good it would be if you could do this regularly.
The trap most of us fall into is not prioritising self-care by thinking: “Meditation, relaxation, mindful breathing? It would be so nice to try when I have more time.” The truth is you will never have more time, so just put it in your diary for the whole year ahead – next to doctor appointments, work meetings, children’s sports clubs and other very important stuff that you don’t skip unless you are seriously ill.
The Thrive: Mental Wellbeing app is an easy way to implement self-care into your daily routine. With audio-based relaxation sessions lasting as little as 5 minutes, you can enjoy a moment of bliss on the go or in between tasks.
5. Catch up with a friend
We often don’t realise how important it is to connect with others. These are not just words – there is a scientific explanation for that. Many people have heard of the hormone called oxytocin in the context of love and sex but it has one more function. It is produced when we experience stress and it pushes us to connect with other people. If we do so, we feel enormous relief and all other emotional benefits.
Meanwhile, even more, oxytocin is produced and it targets some special receptors in the heart and mends heart cells that might have been damaged by the effects of cortisol (another well-known stress hormone). So, why not call or text a friend and let your heart heal – quite literally.
Don’t blame yourself or don’t get discouraged if you did not manage to complete the above four today or if you ever don’t manage to complete something. Be kind to yourself and don’t forget that every day you are doing the best you can.
Let your new beginning happen on a Wednesday or Thursday – you’ve got this!