There is some speculation around which Monday is supposedly the most depressing day of the year, but general consensus in the Northern Hemisphere is it is one of the first three Monday’s in January. Having to return to school/work, the short days, your credit card bill and not having yet received January’s pay are all reasons given for January being the most depressing month of the year.
Whether this applies to you or not, here are some tips to help you if you do find yourself feeling down during the winter, many of which I employ on a regular basis myself – the last one might be a bit niche mind!
Exercise not only improves your energy levels and immune system, but it also triggers your brain to release endorphins – naturally occurring chemicals that make us feel happier. If it’s too cold to exercise outside, take up indoor exercise such as going swimming or taking the stairs instead of the lift which can be just as beneficial for your mental health. Personally I find exercising with friends is the best way to do exercise, but don’t let a lack of a buddy stop you – get out, get some air in your lungs and move about a bit, you’ll be glad of it afterwards.
Thankfully New Year’s resolutions often include the resolution to eat better so you’ll be in good company if you decide to improve your diet at this time of year. We tend to crave fats in the winter to help keep ourselves warm, so though you might feel tempted to eat comfort food like chips or chocolate, a diet rich in omega-3 oily fish like salmon and mackerel will be better for you in the long term and the omega-3′s are natural anti-depressants so will help to combat your lethargy and low mood.
Staying tucked up at home when it’s cold outside can be appealing, but being cut off from friends or family or not having a social support network can make your mood worse. Face-to-face human contact stimulates certain physiological responses in the brain that benefit our mental health in a way that technology-based contact doesn’t. So whilst technology and social networking sites can help us keep in touch, it is no replacement for actually seeing our friends or family and getting out and about and meeting people.
Join an interest/activity group
Joining a local sports club or a leisure group allows to meet some new people and to have regular contact with people who share similar interests or hobbies. You’ll find you’re not the only one that has up and down times and being part of something where you are contributing will meet one of your six human needs too.
Join a support group
The Mind Detox Tunbridge Wells meditation group was set up to provide a regular meditation practice as well as a support group for people as they progress on their journey. Having a supportive group of people around you, just like the lovely people that meditate on Tuesday’s, can make all the difference to difficult experiences and will improve your quality of life. Whilst it might be tempting to hide away on your own, you’ll be amazed at how uplifting a good listening ear or a kind smile can be and these are the sorts of things that stay with you for days. Check out our next dates for meditation sessions.
I put mindfulness rather than meditation, because most people associate meditation with sitting or lying down quietly rather than something they can do when they are out and about during the day. Mindfulness for me is about being in the present moment and aware of yourself and the surroundings around you in order to ground you in reality rather than being swept up in the pseudo reality of in this case, depressive and fatalistic thinking. In addition to being mindful during the day, I encourage you to play around with sitting quietly for 10 minutes a day to practice a very concentrated form of mindfulness or meditation if you please. Even better is the more you practice mindfulness the easier it becomes and the better the results are, which is of course why so many people now make it part of their daily routine.
Set yourself realistic goals
Lots of people set themselves New Year’s resolutions in January but might not stick to them which can be demotivating and impact on their emotional wellbeing. To help you achieve your New Year resolutions run them past a friend first to see if they past the test of:
S – Specific (e.g. loose 12lbs)
M – Measurable (e.g. using the scales)
A – Achievable (e.g. to be done by cutting out sweets and cakes)
R – Realistic (given your constraints this is something you can achieve)
T – Time based (e.g. in 3 months)
Sharing your goals makes you much more likely to accomplish them as you have someone to check and keep you on track and you’ll feel motivated to impress them and not let them or you down.
Have a birthday!
It was my birthday on Monday 13th January and I always find that its a great excuse to be extra motivated to make new changes at the beginning of the year. As I know several of you on this list had birthday’s in January too, I would like to take this opportunity to wish you Happy Birthday as well! Birthday’s for me are a time to celebrate with family and friends and that’s exactly what I’ve been doing.
And if after all these tips you are still struggling it may be wise to seek professional help. Approximately 7% of the British population are said to suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder where the short winter days produce apathy and a low mood. There are many things you can do from talking therapies (like Mind Detox) to nutritional support to help through these months. As someone that use to suffer from SAD I know there is plenty you can do to help yourself and would be happy to talk to anyone that would like some advice.
Special meditation date – guest speaker Sharada Ishaya
If this is the year that your goal is to experience more peace, more freedom and more well being then you’d do well to join us in the Salt Cave on Tues 21st Jan at 8pm. Local Ishaya monk Sharada will be joining us in the cave to talk about Ascension meditation and you will see for yourself the benefits it brings.
From my own experience I can tell you that Ascension Meditation will bring balance back into your life and revolutionise the way you see the world. Designed to harmonise the left and right brain, this very old meditation technique is blessed with simplicity and the opportunity to be practiced anytime, anywhere. Even if you have no intention in training in a meditation practice I thoroughly recommend you come along to this talk to find out exactly what peace looks like and what is available to you. Tickets £10 (normal price) and it is recommended you book your space in advance either by emailing me back, or signing up on the Mind Detox Tunbridge Wells events page.