The festivities from the holidays are already a distant memory and if you’re living in the more northern part of the Northern Hemisphere (hello, London), Spring still feels like a long… long way off. It can leave you feeling tired, tearful, and even straight up grumpy. If this Monday in the middle of January has you feeling down, you’re not alone, and there’s even a name for it!
Yep, Blue Monday is actually a thing. Let’s go back to 2005. At that time, Professor Cliff Arnall of Cardiff University was developing a formula to pinpoint the day when people were most likely to feel depressed. According to his calculations, the bluest day of the year came out to be the third Monday in January. And alas, here we are.
A lot of things contribute to it: the low light of the day, the poor weather conditions, the distance of the holiday season, it often being a financially ‘tighter’ time, and even the abandonment of hopeful New Year’s resolutions. Oh, and the fact that it’s a Monday.
To all that we say: back off Blue Monday! Of course, it’s OK and normal to have down days, but it’s also so important to fight to stay out of that space when we can and recognize what helps us feel good and brings that happiness back to the forefront, or at least into balance.
Before we dive into some of our top happiness hacks for making it through Blue Monday and the rest of winter, we do want to touch on Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), as it’s a very real and very serious thing. If you feel your winter blues are more than a Blue Monday here and there, please reach out to your healthcare professional to discuss your options for how to best manage and treat seasonal depression. For more information on SAD, read here and here.
Now, if you’re after some simple ways to help you feel lighter and brighter this winter, we’ve got the top happiness hacks for you:
4 Happiness Hacks for Winter
1. Do a 10 Minute Workout
OK, no surprise here – as exercise has long been shown to be a promoter of better moods. But did you know that even 10 minutes a day could help towards those efforts?
Last year a review was published in the Journal of Happiness Studies looking at all the research on exercise and its effect on our moods from the past 40 years. Their findings found that even as little as 10 minutes of moderate-high intensity exercise a day contributed to improved moods. Of course, if you can squeeze in a bit more exercise, the better! But even 10 minutes can make a difference.
It’s best to start with a workout that you enjoy and offers moderate intensity aerobic training. But for more of our favorite mood-boosting exercises, check out the app for our favorite feel-good exercises.
2. Add More Green to Your Home
Winter has a way of keeping us indoors and limiting our exposure to greenery. But flora can be really powerful in reducing cognitive fatigue, lowering stress, and improving symptoms of depression and anxiety. Adding more plants to your home is not only a way to liven up your decor, but it also might help you feel that much happier.
The benefits aren’t just psychological; plants are capable of reducing carbon dioxide levels and air pollutants such as airborne dust, acting as natural air purifier so you can breathe a bit easier.
If you’re looking to pick up some house plants, here are a few that are robust even in the winter months: Peace Lilies, Ferns, Bromeliads, Creeping Figs, Aloe Vera, Snake Plants, and Succulents.
3. Practice Gratitude Daily
The holidays are usually the time we all focus on giving thanks and taking note of what we’re grateful for – but daily gratitude practice – all year long – can be beneficial to your emotional health and wellbeing.
A great way to incorporate more gratitude into your life is through mindfulness meditation and using that dedicated time to focus on what you’re grateful for in your present moment. Some of the benefits? Improved brain functioning, lowered blood pressure and heart rate, better attention and focus, reduced anxiety levels, and greater feelings of calm and connectedness.
For guided mindfulness exercises, be sure to check out the Baby2Body app.
4. Find the Light
It’s no secret that the amount of daylight we experience affects our levels of mood-regulating neurotransmitters, namely serotonin. So when we get less exposure to sunlight we typically produce less serotonin and more melatonin (aka the ‘sleep hormone’). The shift in the balance of these chemicals is linked with higher rates of depression and low moods.
The solution? Find the light, and embrace it when you can! A great place to start is by chasing the natural sunlight as much as you can. Take advantage of finding outdoor winter activities. Getting quality time outside (even in the cold!) can make a difference to your moods.
To supplement, many people find light therapy to be a powerful, low-intervention form of treatment for depression in the darker months of the year. For more information on that, check out this post.
We’re wishing you a happier Monday today and always! For more happiness hacks and personalized guidance on living healthier, be sure to check out the Baby2Body app.