Beating the Blue Monday gloom

Blue Monday sad pug dog sat in a blanket

Monday 17th January 2022 is Blue Monday, the day when people report feeling their lowest. Due to a combination of Christmas blues, a longer wait for payday, cold weather and dark evenings. The rumour is Blue Monday was actually created by a travel company looking to market sun holidays. However, the fact remains that many of us experience winter depression (also known as Seasonal Affective Disorder or SAD). And January can be a hard month for some of us.

There are a few things that I do to keep my mood and energy up during the winter months, and today I’m sharing my top three with you.

Top 3 ways to boost mood and energy:

  1. Move in nature. Nothing novel about this suggestion but here’s something you might not know. Phytoncides are essential oils that are emitted from the leaves. So as we move among the leaves when walking in woodland for example, we benefit from exposure to these oils. Phytoncides have antibacterial and antifungal properties, and increase the production of white blood cells, therefore boosting the immune system. Being in nature also increases your natural light exposure which is great for serotonin release. In Japan, they practice shinrin-yoku. Shinrin in Japanese means “forest,” and yoku means “bath.” So shinrin-yoku means bathing in the forest atmosphere, or taking in the forest through our senses. They actually prescribe “Forest Bathing” for good health.
  2. Make a future plan. Planning ahead can create excitement and help you ‘get out of self’ and out of the present moment. It also uses a concept called ‘future retrospection’. According to research, by imagining future events as if they were in the past, we are better able to visualise both the end goal and the steps required to get there. Our future becomes more solid because we feel we’ve already lived it, which in itself can boost your mood.
  3. Interact with animal – ideally a dog! When we establish eye contact with a dog, we rapidly get a release of oxytocin. Oxytocin is the bonding and connecting hormone that makes us feel warm and connected. It also reduces cortisol, leaving us feeling less stressed. Dogs get a rapid release of oxytocin as well, which gives them a sleepy, dreamy look. Find the right dog and you could establish a bond of trust and love. And by making eye contact you can enjoy the mutual feelings of connectedness.

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