Did you know that the third Monday of January is known as Blue Monday, the most depressing day of the year? It was Dr Cliff Arnal, a former tutor of a Further Education centre attached to Cardiff University, who came up with the pseudoscience formula as part of a 2005 press release for Sky Travel, predicting the gloomiest day of the year based on factors including weather, debts, time since Christmas and motivation. For many, the day has been an epitome of all that is depressing about this time of year, but Dr Cliff Arnall has since said the day should represent a bid to encourage a positive outlook and optimism for new beginnings and change. Our focus is to use the day to help our dads who find January to be super gloomy and depressing by asking a few of our experts about ways to sucker punch that Blue Monday feeling. They’ve provided their top ‘pick me ups’ to help you beat not only Blue Monday but all of those dreaded Mondays…
1. Reach out to those around you
“When it’s an overcast grey day we may feel gloomy and choose to avoid being sociable. This avoidance may lead to a spiral of negativity. Whilst experiencing prolonged winters and occasional low mood, reaching out and connecting with a friend can improve it instantly. If this is ‘too much’ then connect via text or email and arrange to call or have them call you,” explains Nutritionist Alix Woods.
You could start by talking to us on our online forum which has over 34,000 dads on DAD.info Community Forum. Our talks about all sorts of issues on the forum, from jealousy, trust, divorce and child contact, to feelings of suicide and depression.
2. Foods to improve mood
“Feed the brain with essential fatty acids to boost your mood. Turkey is not only high in protein; it contains tryptophan, which is an amino acid that helps boost dopamine and serotonin in the brain. Healthy carbohydrates such as wholegrain foods, which are high in fibre are not only comforting, but they will also help stabilise blood sugar levels, preventing mood dips and irritability. In the winter a vegetable soup with barley and other wholegrains is a warming mood booster,” explains Wellness Expert, Fitness Trainer & Author of a range of books including Body Cycles, Jacqueline Harvey.
3. Look after your gut and it will repay you
“Numerous studies in the past two decades have demonstrated links between gut health and the immune system, mood, mental health and endocrine disorders. Fermented foods contain high levels of probiotics, which top up the healthy bacteria that naturally live in our intestine. They are known for aiding in digestion, boosting the immune system and cleaning our gut. They’re a key contributor to the health of the gut-brain axis and have a calming effect on the body, specifically helping with aggression. Fermented foods containing probiotics, include kefir, sauerkraut, kimchi, pickles and live yoghurt,” explains Jacqueline Harvey.
4. Struggling to include kefir into your diet?
If you are struggling to include fermented foods into your everyday diet, then opt for a supplement version. “Natures Plus GI Natural powdercontains glutamine, probiotics, digestive enzymes, prebiotics and essential cofactors as well as very specific ingredients such as ginger, turmeric and Serrapeptase to work in synergy protecting the gut from inflammation and boosting gastro-intestinal health,” explains Nutritionist at Natures Plus, Martina Della Vedova. Simply mix 1-leveled scoop into water, a drink or a smoothie and mix. “This formula works very effectively if taken before bed with half a glass of warm water; when your digestion is at rest, you are having a temporary fasting meaning the ingredients in the GI Natural powder can work their magic,” Martina adds.
5. Don’t relate to Pathetic Fallacy
“Just like weather, exercise has a big impact on mood and a little exercise goes a long way. It promotes the feel-good hormone, serotonin that regulates mood, sleep and appetite. By taking a long leisurely walk or having a short burst of interval training, alleviates symptoms associated with depression and anxiety. It’s even more beneficial to exercise outside even in the rain. Even walking on grey days allows UV exposure and regulates circadian rhythm and mood,” explains Alix Woods.
6. Beetroot may stain your clothes but it can also leave a smile on your face
Incorporating this super food into your life may be more beneficial than you think. Accredited Nutritionist MSc/BSc at sense*, Dimitra Sentelidou explains, “Beetroot powder is a fantastic source of the chemical betaine anhydrous and the amino acid tryptophan, both of which are shown to improve your mood. Betaine is a chemical that occurs naturally in the body, but is also found potently in beets. As well as this in order for your body to manufacture serotonin, the neurotransmitter is known as the “happiness hormone,” it needs a sufficient supply of tryptophan.” To get your daily dose of Beetroot, as well as Acai Berry and a number of other Superfoods, try the brand new sense* for Busy Lives Superfood Supplement Powder. This can be added to your favourite smoothies and juices, or stirred into food.
7. Cuddle your pet
Give your pet a cuddle on blue Monday to start the day in a positive way – “There is great evidence that having a pet boosts overall health by reducing stress, increasing immunity, improving mood, making us more sociable, increasing fitness and staving off heart disease and major mood disorders,” explains Alix Woods.
8. Harmonise your body and mind
Hemp, the sought after natural ingredient, continues to hit headlines thanks to its highly nutritious health benefits. Hemp contains phytocannabinoids, “Phytocannabinoids are natural substances found in cannabis sativa plants. When we absorb them, they interact with our nervous system, brain and immune system. They do this by mimicking – or helping to increase – the activity of natural chemicals produced in our own body known as endocannabinoids. Endocannabinoids have effects on many systems and processes in our body, including digestion and appetite, mood, stress response, sensations of pleasure and pain, our immune system and reproduction. So, phytocannabinoids from cannabis sativa are thought to have beneficial effects in these areas,” explains Martina. For your daily dose of tranquil try the Natures Plus HempCeutix Complete capsules.
9. Dry February
Struggling to budge the Christmas bulge? We all know that alcohol is an anti-depressant, so not only will Dry January help improve your mood, but it could also help budge the extra chub that you may have added on over Christmas. “Alcohol stimulates appetite so you are more likely to overeat, affects judgment and willpower so you are less likely to make healthy food choices and provides ‘empty’ calories that are readily converted into fat in the body,” explains Dr. Sarah Brewer, working in association with CuraLin Diabetes supplement. If you’re too late for dry January, be different and try dry February.