We have probably all heard of Blue Monday, supposedly the bluest and most depressing day of the year. This year, it falls on 17 January. In reality, there is no scientific evidence that this is the hardest day for our mental health, instead our mental health is personal to each and every one of us.
Even though Blue Monday is a myth, January can be a tough month with cold weather and dark evenings and perhaps debt from Christmas. So, let Blue Monday be a reminder to check in with yourself and be aware of your own mental health.
Check in with your mental health
This can be a good time to check in that you’re meeting your own needs and be honest about how things really are. Here are some questions to get you thinking about your own wellbeing:
- Are you looking after your basic needs like a balanced diet, drinking enough water and exercising?
- Do you still enjoy the activities you do for fun or with your time off?
- Do you feel connected to other people?
- Do you find it difficult to sleep or do you feel sleepy most of the time?
- Do you have unexplained headaches or stomach aches?
Remember being honest with yourself about how you feel is the first step in making changes to help your own wellbeing.
Mental health is unique to you
A day on a calendar cannot define you and what you are going through, we all have good days and bad days.
Mental health includes our emotional, psychological, and social wellbeing. It affects every aspect of our life, how we think, feel and act. It also affects how we respond to stress, talk to others, and make our choices.
Many factors can affect your mental health such as biological factors like brain chemistry, hormones and life experiences.
Seasonal variations in mental health
The time of year can have an impact on our mental health and it’s common to be affected by changing seasons and weather, or to have times of year when you feel more or less comfortable. For example, you might find that your mood or energy levels drop when it colder or warmer, or notice changes in your sleeping or eating patterns.
Often people find winter can be one of the hardest times of year, the main theory is that this is because of a lack of sunlight might stop a part of the brain called the hypothalamus working properly, which may affect production of melatonin (a hormone that makes you sleepy), serotonin (a hormone that affects your mood, appetite and sleep), and your body’s internal body clock.
Looking after your mental health
The ‘Five Ways to Wellbeing’ can be a useful way of thinking about what you need to be mentally healthy. The ‘Five Ways to Wellbeing’ were first developed by the New Economics Foundation and include:
- Connect: Reach out to friends and family, talks to others, and share what is on your mind. We offer a ‘Here to talk’ befriending service if you want someone to talk to regularly about how you are feeling.
- Get Active: Get out of the house if you can and keep your body moving.
- Take notice: Remind yourself to take notice of the world around you. This can help ground you in the moment rather than worrying about the future.
- Learn: Learning new things helps keep your brain active and give you a sense of achievement. We offer a range of training courses that can help with your caring role and help you learn new things. See what training we have coming up on our What’s On page.
- Give: Being a part of a community and giving back to others can be great for our wellbeing and sense of belonging.
There is no set way to have these five things in your life, so find what interests and motivates you to connect, learn, get active, give and take notice.
If you need more support with your mental health, our information hub has links to a range of mental health support. You can also phone us to talk to one of our friendly Carer Advisers on 0800 368 8349 about support available to you.