It’s quite common to have a lower mood in the winter. This is often referred to as the Winter Blues. A more severe form of ‘depression’ is called Seasonal Affective Disorder or SAD.
A lack of sunlight is considered a major factor in both the Winter Blues and SAD, although there are a number of other factors to consider too. Then there is the day when our mood is supposedly the lowest of the whole year, aptly named Blue Monday
What is Blue Monday?
Blue Monday is a name given to a theoretically ‘most depressing day of the year’. It was calculated by a psychologist called Dr Cliff Arnall in 2005, being commissioned by Sky Travel to work out why the holiday booking season peaked post-Christmas. They were basically trying to get a formula as to when to time their marketing activity.
Is Blue Monday Real?
The calculations include the number of long dark nights, days since the last payday, bad weather and average temperature, days to the next bank holiday, and the post-Christmas blues including debt. It has no quantitative studies or data behind it. The links between the factors aren’t proven and thus the concept of a most depressing day of the year should be ignored. However, if you are feeling depressed it could be used as your rock bottom to a better 2022.
When is Blue Monday in 2022?
Blue Monday typically falls on the third Monday in January and this will be Monday, January 17th in 2022.
How can you prevent the Winter Blues?
Whilst a lack of light is a key factor in the winter blues it’s not the only area to focus on if you are trying to lift your mood. Our mental health is comprised of and can be lifted by a variety of factors. These will vary in importance depending on your own circumstances. Acknowledging that you feel lower than you want to be is the first step to improving your mood.
Top tips for Mental Health and Great Sleep
Here are some tips to help improve your mood and prevent the winter blues
1) Eat well: A Mediterranean diet is regarded as best for physical and mental wellbeing.
2) Drink lots of water: Water is vital for good mental health and sleep. Avoid alcohol close to bedtime as it disrupts your sleep later in the night.
3) Keep as regular sleep times as possible: Setting the same waketime 7 days a week is probably the most important part here and make sure you don’t lie in bed longer than 15 minutes in the morning. Getting out of bed promptly. improves your sleep efficiency and your mood. Making a new year’s resolution to avoid the snooze button could be part of this programme
4) Get sunlight first thing: This improves your mood and strengthens your Circadian Rhythm or body clock making it easier to get to sleep in the evening. This could include making sure you sit next to a window whilst you work, although getting natural sunlight is best. Aim for 15 minutes a day, even when it’s dull.
5) Socialise: Covid lockdowns have shown many of us how important being in touch with friends and family is to our mental wellbeing.
6) Exercise each day: Around 20 minutes of cardio, a day, is perfect. Going for a walk outside will help too. Exercise lifts our mood with endorphins and helps us get a better nights’ sleep.
7) Have a morning and evening routine: Do some meditation ideally twice a day. First thing you could include some positive affirmations and visualise a day where you look after yourself mentally and physically. This could involve taking regular breaks and being more mindful of stress levels. Then in the evening do some relaxing visualisation or Yoga Nidra. Evening meditation is proven to improve our sleep.
8) Take Vitamin D: It’s now recommended that we take vitamin D in the darker months. The NHS recommends that 10 micrograms a day are enough for most people. Also, don’t take more than 100 micrograms a day of Vitamin D ( 4,000 IU) as it could be harmful. Vitamin D aids both sleep and mental health.
9) Buy a SAD Lamp: If you get especially low in the winter, you could consider getting a SAD lamp. These can be used first thing to give you a dose of sunlight.
10) Talk to friends and family about how your feel: However, if you are struggling with feelings of depression over a long period also speak to your GP. It’s important to get help to stop things from progressing.
If you are struggling with your sleep or the winter blues you can book a free consultation so I can give you some personal tips and see whether you need longer-term help.