6 unexpected ways to beat the January blues

Yep, it’s Blue Monday, supposedly the single glummest day of the year. A miserable combination of returning to work, abysmal weather, giving up on our New Year’s resolutions (see how to stick to your fitness goals here) and the financial ruin Christmas left us in can leave us feeling a little down in the dumps.

To perk yourself up a bit, David Brudö, CEO and Co-founder at mental wellbeing and personal development app Remente, and Frida Harju, in-house nutritionist at health app Lifesum, have shared their top unusual tips on how to cope with the January blues:

1 Declutter your life
Focus your attention on getting rid of all the unnecessary items that have been cluttering up your life. Whether its clothes you never wear that can go to charity or unsubscribing from irrelevant email subscriptions, decluttering is not only practical but also clears your mind, leaving you feeling refreshed and ready to take on a new year.

2 Volunteer with an animal shelter
A great deal of research supports the belief that being around animals can have an immensely positive effect on your mood. Why not take the opportunity to see if your local animal shelter needs a volunteer? Not only will you be helping a great cause, but it’s bound to bring the necessary boost of happiness to help beat the blues.

3 Reinvent your work space
We’re often unaware how much our environment affects our mood. If you spend a large proportion of your time working, it’s essential that your work space feels like a positive place, filled with things that will help bring you happiness. Plants are a great addition to your desk as they produce oxygen, helping to improve the quality of air – plus they’ve been proven to help reduce stress and boost productivity. If the seemingly eternal darkness is getting you down, then it might be a good idea to invest in a SAD desk light, which can improve your mood by replicating the sun’s rays.

4 Delay going dairy-free
Unless you’re intolerant, of course. If you were thinking of ditching dairy for other reasons you may want to hold off. There are many health benefits to dairy foods, namely high levels of the sunshine supplement vitamin D – an essential nutrient to help boost your mood. Milk is often fortified with vitamin D, and ricotta cheese has five times the amount of it than other cheeses. If you’d rather, take a vitamin D supplement, or swap milk for almond, rice, and oat alternatives, which often contain similar nutrients.

5 Eat mushrooms
It’s that all-important vitamin D again, this time in surprisingly high amounts in mushrooms. As they’re exposed to sunlight when growing, our favourite funghi are packed with serotonin-boosting vitamin D. Incorporate them in your diet with this veggie-packed traybake.

6 Consider probiotics
Improving your mood often starts with improving your physical health, and a great place to start is your gut. Probiotics are well-regarded for their ability to boost the immune system and aid the digestive system. But aside from this, research is increasingly indicating that there may be a link between the bacteria in your gut and your mood. It’s thought that when ‘healthy’ bacteria are digested, they may help reduce anxiety and stress, as well as having a positive effect on mood. Try to ensure you’re getting enough probiotic-rich foods in your diet, such as kefir, yoghurt, kimchi and root veg, or consider taking probiotic supplements.

Always seek professional help if you think you might be suffering from depression, anxiety or any other mental health issue.

Hattie Parish :