Today has been named Blue Monday. Officially the lowest day of the year for those of us in the Northern Hemisphere. It’s interesting to note that, like so many days marked nowadays, it’s a commercial invention by a travel company to sell more holidays.
There is a formula:
where W=weather, D=debt, d=monthly salary, T=time since Christmas, Q=time since failing our new year’s resolutions, M=low motivational levels, and Na=the feeling of a need to take action. No units are defined.
And a lot of press & commercial interest, because whether it’s scientific or not, it is a fact that many people feel low at this time of year. I know I can be happy as Larry before Christmas, looking forward to something, busily squirreling the presents & decorations around. No probs for me then, but after Christmas I feel…. lethargic. Sad. Low.
I say ‘feel’, but I should say ‘used to feel’ because I have found, the last couple of years, that consciously following the Hygge philosophy has helped a lot. I accept that I’m going to be tired, or stressed, or sad, and cope with it through self-caring practices.
So, what are my top tips to getting through Blue Monday (and beyond!!) and enjoying life a little more?
- Plan something to look forward to. Anticipation is a beautiful state, so have a treat planned for later in the week. This could be as simple as coffee with a friend, a cinema trip or even a new project at work that you’re looking forward to. Don’t make it too far ahead, though: a week’s wait is good, eagerly anticipating that holiday in 6 months is not, because you’re not close enough to the event to generate the right kind of anticipation (the Christmas Eve kind, when you know there’s only one more sleep til Christmas!!) And don’t spend money on it if no money is one of the issues making you blue.
- Be kind to others. Seeing another person in need (even if that need is only for a warm cup of coffee at work) and acting on it gives you a mental boost. A team of researchers from Oxford and Bournemouth Universities has proven it, but says that the effect is only a little one, less than one point on the happiness index (1-10). At this time of year, every little helps, so I’ll take the 1 point and raise my happiness, thank you.
- Don’t accept it has to be so. Ask why you feel blue, and then reframe the question. What is it about these things making you sad? Can you do anything about any of them? Big issues like money, wealth and relationships are not going to be solved in a day, but you can make big plans and then take the first baby steps towards them. Sharing the problems and talking them through with a sensible friend can help, since talking about things can put them more into perspective. A problem shared really is a problem halved.
- Watch your language! No, I don’t mean don’t swear, I mean watch how negative or positive your language is. What you say is what you believe, so it may be worth consciously trying to be the positive, happy person you want to be. Don’t dis the family or workers that wind you up, don’t put yourself down, be a positive person. Our brain needs 5 positive statements for every negative one… that’s a lot of positivity, but I know we can do it!
- Smile. Though your heart is breaking, smile, even though it’s aching… (Charlie Chaplin) Yes, it makes your face ache and there’ll be times when it really is just pasted on, a smile does improve your mood. There’s time later on for expressing your true feelings. Today is not that day.
- Spend time with people who make you happy. That can be real or virtual people. I have a pretty full day ahead of me, but I’ve got the evening with my family and a couple of hours on the computer on Twitter and Facebook with The Hygge Nook and #hyggehour.
- Cuddle someone or something. Aside from my family, I’ll be hugging the guinea pigs. Good for stress, blood pressure and making me feel happy.
And there you have it simple… and free… ways to boost your mood. Most of them rely on just one thing: reaching out and making a connection with others. That’s hygge. Make the link, build the atmosphere, feel the benefit.
**I do want to say, though, that if you have a serious issue with depression or mood swings, these may not be what you need. They won’t harm you, but medical help in certain circumstances is best.**
Like what you’ve read? Find me on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, or if you’re after the full Hygge hit join The Hygge Nook on Facebook. We’re happy to meet you! Don’t forget #hyggehour from 8 to 9pm London time on Twitter tonight, or to enter the Stylist Magazine Blue Monday Party contest today! Hope today’s a pale blue, rather than midnight & see you tomorrow!