Avoid the Monday Blues with these top tips!
‘Blue Monday’, which this year falls on the 21st of January, is reported to be the most depressing day of the year due to cold weather, lingering Christmas debt and failed New Year’s resolutions. It’s true that many people do struggle with lower mood and energy during the long dark January days, but who says any Monday has to be blue? There’s still plenty to be thankful for in January, so why not celebrate this year by turning it into a carnival of colour and fun!
A growing body of evidence shows that our beneficial gut bacteria can help support positive mood and emotional well-being, via what is known as the “microbiota-gut-brain axis.” Supporting the health of our gut is now believed to be a key way to help improve mood. An easy way to do this is to brighten up your kitchen with colourful jars of traditionally fermented sauerkraut and kimchi. Red cabbage with juniper berries and caraway seeds is a favourite and adds a beautiful splash of colour to any plate, as well as delivering lots of beneficial microbes. Fermenting is super easy and can be done with almost any type of vegetable from cabbage to carrots and beetroot. Why not enrol on a local fermenting workshop to get you in the swing of things?
Nature-based interventions for mental health are becoming more common, with evidence showing that those with good access to natural environments are more likely to have better mental well-being. Wrapping up warm and getting outside somewhere open and green (even just for a walk round the park) may therefore help improve mood. Another way to go green is to review your lifestyle for ways to be more environmentally friendly. Feeling you are doing something positive for the world can help provide a sense of purpose, which is a great mood boost. You could even make it an on-going project for the year.
Visit the Snowdrops
Whilst it might feel like much of nature is hibernating in January, the snowdrops will have started to raise their heads, symbolising the survival of life and beauty even through the darkest of winter days. Why not head to the woods or one of the National Trust’s snowdrop sites to see their bright white flowers carpeting the floor.
Get Cosy Round the Fire
One benefit of the cold weather is the opportunities it gives to get cosy in front of an open fire. Who needs TV when you can stare into the beautiful swirling orange, yellow and red flames? If you’re lucky enough to have a wood burner at home, make sure you are stocked up with logs and try making some healthy home-made pop-corn in a pan on top. Otherwise head for the nearest local cosy pub with an open fire to warm your feet after your green winter walk.
Eat a Rainbow
Eating well is important when it comes to improving mood. Many people don’t realise that food is not just a source of energy for the body, the nutrients it contains also act as messengers, helping different organs (including the brain) to communicate and function optimally. Aim to increase your intake of colourful fruit and veg by setting yourself realistic targets (try 2-3 different colours of veg with each evening meal and a side salad with every lunch). And just to really give Blue-Monday the heave-ho, how about inviting some fun friends or family round on the 21st January and getting them all to bring a nutritious colourful dish to share.
Dress to Impress
Seeing as you’re going colourful on your plate, why not also lift your spirits by reflecting this in what you wear? After all, who says bright colours and fun patterns are only for summer? Invest in a thermal base layer and tights and you’ll still be toasty warm whatever style you go for.
Plan your next Holiday
It’s true that in January summer sunshine feels like a distant hazy memory, but rather than mope about grey skies, how about planning for your next adventure? Focusing on when you’re next going to wiggle your toes on golden sands and dive into turquoise waters can be a real mood boost during stressful periods and planning early means you’ll have plenty of time to start saving. How about creating a mood board using travel magazines or on Pinterest with ideas for your next destination and all the activities you want to do?
Take Good Care of your Gut
The excesses of Christmas can have a negative impact on our gut bacteria, so it’s likely many people could do with giving their gut some extra support in the New Year. Not least because over 70% of our immune cells are located in the gut, supported by the diverse community of microbes that reside there. Coming down with the winter lurgy isn’t good for anybody’s mood, so to support your immune system try taking a good quality live bacteria supplement, such as Bio-Kult Multi-Strain Advanced Formulation with 14 different strains of live bacteria. The Bio-Kult range comes in a variety of brightly coloured orange, purple and pink flowered boxes, depending on the support you need. Whichever you go for it’s bound to brighten up your supplement-shelf, and potentially your mood to.
Hannah Braye is a Nutritional Therapist at Bio-Kult