The third Thursday of every January has become known as Blue Monday, ‘the most depressing day of the year’, this year residing on 21st. With the excitement of festive celebrations over, the money pressures from the expenditure for Christmas, miserable weather and generally getting back into a ‘normal’ routine with dark nights still prevailing can be tough for most and for some it can have a detrimental effect on their mental health.

The Blue Monday title is designed to raise awareness of the importance of discussing mental health issues. In England, 1 in 6 people report experiencing a common mental health problem (such as anxiety and depression) in any given week [1].

Gerri Creedon, Founder of Regain Recovery, has some top tips below on how to survive Blue Monday and improving mental health:

Exercise to cope with Blue Monday

“My main advice would be don’t rely on alcohol or drugs to alternate your mood, these options will only make it worse. There are always healthier ways to improve your mental health through the tips below and by talking to someone whether that’s a close family member or a friend or seeking guidance from a professional at a centre like ours. Talking to someone can help you feel less isolated and help you gain a way to improve your mood.”

“Actively working on improving your health through exercise, eating well and getting the right amount of sleep are a good start to improving not only physical wellbeing but mental too.”

“The products we consume have a direct connection to our energy levels which can affect our sleep patterns and this, in turn, affects our mood. Try to avoid processed foods and those high in sugar. Changing to a diet containing recommended amounts of protein and vitamins through lean meats, fruits & vegetables can have a rapid effect in reducing the lethargic feeling caused by overly sugary and fatty foods.”

“Alcohol is well known for disrupting sleep patterns, leaving you feeling lethargic and affecting your livers function making you feel sluggish, all equate to feeling low and unhappy. Cutting out alcohol has an instant effect on improved health and mood if you’ve begun ‘Dry January’ you’ll already be feeling the positive effects.”

“The increased energy levels will also help you feel more motivated to keep active. Exercise releases endorphins which are natural pain and stress fighters making you feel happier. If you’re not sure what sort of exercise is right for you or worried you’re not fit enough to try a class; try a variety of classes or groups until you find something you enjoy and take it at your own speed building up your strength gradually. Try with friends to keep motivated or alternatively the classes are a great way to meet new people.”

Gerri says, “Exercise and healthy eating combined aid with good nights sleep which is essential to good mental health. If you struggle to drift off to sleep try avoiding watching TV or using gadgets such as mobiles when you go to bed, these can distract you and keep you awake. Instead, read or listen to music which can be much more soothing and relaxing.”

“Following tips like these will enhance your mood, improve both your physical and mental health and lower your reliance on mood-changing products like drugs and alcohol.”

If you or a loved one are struggling with their drinking or drug use contact us to discuss how the team at Regain Recovery can help. Regain Recovery partner centre’s offer clients detox and rehabilitation programmes designed to address the many issues that may have caused them to develop a dependency on alcohol and providing them with a way forward to manage this dependency.

[1] McManus S, Bebbington P, Jenkins R, Brugha T. (eds.) (2016). Mental health and wellbeing in England: Adult psychiatric morbidity survey 2014. Leeds: NHS digital. Photo by Emma Simpson on Unsplash

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