13 Jan BLOG: Challenging Blue Monday
January has earned a reputation as gloomiest month of the year. Blue Monday is usually loaded with post-Christmas pressures, miserable weather, and the struggle, for many, of adopting a new habit or routine, deeming it the most depressing day of the year. At Oakleaf, we want to challenge this perception.
We understand what our clients feel and face on a day-to-day basis and believe we cannot attribute this to one date – there are many other days throughout the year that those struggling with their mental health can find challenging or hard. So, we’ve come up with some tips to not only help yourself this Blue Monday but also show your support to friends and family around you… all year round.
1. Trim your goals:
With the New Year in full-swing and resolutions flying around, don’t forget to maintain realistic expectations. Set yourself up for success by sticking to one or two changes that are important to you. We often find that conquering smaller, more achievable goals, have the greatest impact on your mental health in the long run. For example, eat a healthy breakfast, go for a stroll in nature, turn off your phone, or spend some much-needed time with friends and family online. Think small. Stay rational. Go easy on yourself.
2. Nurture in nature:
Winter can be incredibly hard on your mental health, especially for those of you who are dealing with symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). It’s true that the shorter, darker days can leave you feeling like hibernation is your best or only option. But the environment can have a tremendous impact on our mental wellbeing, in ways we don’t even realise. In fact, research suggests that ‘blue spaces’ (see, blue isn’t all that bad) such as the sky and the ocean tend to promote feelings of calm and contemplation. So, if you’re looking to gain a shift in perspective, immerse yourself in the outdoors and really appreciate what nature has to offer.
3. Practice mindfulness:
Pay more attention to the world around you. Be mindful. Live in the present moment. It helps when we become more aware of our thoughts and feelings so that, instead of being overwhelmed by them, we’re better able to manage them.
4. Spread kindness:
Kindness releases feel-good hormones. Doing something nice for a loved one or a stranger can be incredibly rewarding. Try a random act of kindness every day, such as letting another driver out in a line of traffic or paying someone a compliment. The smallest act of kindness can brighten up someone’s day. Here are just a few ideas:
- Reach out to someone you haven’t spoken to in a while
- Have a clear out and donate some much-loved items to a charity shop
- Offer to pick up groceries for your elderly neighbour
- Bake a cake for your household
- Do something you’ve never got round to doing, like learning to play an instrument
- Remind someone that you are there for them. Likely the sentiment will be returned
- Don’t forget to note random acts of kindness that others have done for you
Try to be more trusting, and know that there is always help out there if you need it.
5. Look after yourself:
Whatever self-care means to you, know that it is not selfish. It’s important to look after your mental wellbeing the best way you know how, so make time for yourself next year. Here are some great starting points to get your mental health back on track:
- Practice self-care
- Phone a friend: sharing how you’re feeling can relieve a lot of internal pressure.
- Cook yourself or someone you love a home-made meal
- Discover a physical activity that you enjoy and make it a part of your everyday routine
- Shut off all your devices an hour before you go to sleep
- Try to limit time spent on social media or electronic devices
- Make a conscious effort to eat a healthy, balanced diet every day
- Begin the bedtime wind-down with a warm bath or your favourite book
- Be more selfish: say no to things you don’t want to do
- Don’t be so hard on yourself – be your own best friend
- Keep a diary: jot down your thoughts and feelings to help clear your mind and make sense of things that are troubling you
A reminder to all, that no matter what time of year it is, Blue Monday or not, help is always available. #BlueSkiesAhead