Here in West Yorkshire, just one of the locations where our Support Line teams are based, we’re lucky enough to have 3 ‘Wellbeing Champions’ at hand to support our teams if ever anyone's having a bit of a tough time, and perhaps need a bit of emotional support. Ahead of 'Blue Monday' (21/01/2019), one of our Wellbeing Champs, Natalie, has put together for us a guide on beating those ‘January Blues’.

Enjoy reading, and if you’ve any tips on beating the January Blues, go ahead and share them with us in the comments section below.

With Christmas all wrapped up, New Year celebrations a distant memory, the prospect of the ‘most depressing day of the year, 'Blue Monday' is fast approaching.

In 2005, British psychologist Dr. Cliff Arnall, Head of Psychology at Royal National College for the Blind, came up with a formula to calculate why we feel a little blue on that one day, which generally falls on the third Monday of January every year.

The formula is: [W+(D-d)]xTQ/MxNa]

Confused? Me too. Here's what it apparently all means:

W = Weather

D = Debt

d= Monthly salary 

T = Time since Christmas 

Q = Time since failing New Year’s resolutions 

M = Low motivational levels 

Na = Low motivational levels

The weather can be relentlessly cold and wet in January, although whilst writing this, the sun is beaming through the window, so it could be argued it’s a beautiful winters day! It might feel like a lifetime since Christmas and even longer until payday. The collective downheartedness continues for 31 days with the peak of the misery, this year, falling on January 21st named as the most depressing day of the year.  Awarded this bleak title because on this day we are apparently prone to a day of despair. Lack of money and dry January reduces the amount of time we spend socialising, therefore spend less time with our friends. We wallow, supposedly, in our own self-pity, keep our thoughts to ourselves and become isolated.  

If you weren’t slightly jaded by the prospect of Blue Monday before you read this, you probably are now!

So, rather than focusing on the doom and gloom of January, let’s try and cheer ourselves up and give ourselves some tips to beat those ‘January Blues’.

Whether you are a cancer patient, a carer, a person affected by cancer or if you are in anyway like me, you may have looked upon 2018 as a bit of a challenging year, certain events may have taken their toll.  The last thing we need is the prospect of the “most depressing day of the year” looming. So, lets dust ourselves off and use 2019 as a year to introduce some positive thinking because every day may not be good, but there is something good in everyday!

The NHS Moodzone website has some great tips for beating the winter blues.

Within my role as Wellbeing Champion for Macmillan’s Support Line Services, it is my job to offer support to anyone who works within our Support Line teams and might be going through a tough time, and perhaps need a bit of emotional support.  I would like to share some tips that I have suggested to my colleagues to try and beat Blue Monday:

In the words of rock band, New Order, ask yourself every day in January, “how do I feel?”, if the answer to that question is sombre, try and think of 3 things each day that have made you smile. 

The three things that made me smile today are:

My son’s face when he set off to school, it was the first time he could walk to school on his own with his friends ahead of starting secondary school in September.

My friend and I having a “how many sweets can we fit into our mouth at once” competition at our desk at work and giggling uncontrollably.

Finishing the ironing – I have 2 children so there is a lot of ironing!!!

The days may be short, and the nights feel long, perhaps think about this as a positive and use the opportunity to get more sleep.  More sleep makes you feel better and boosts your mood, adequate sleep is a key part of a healthy lifestyle.

Rather than looking at January as a month to be down, think of January as an opportunity to have a fresh start! We may all have to tighten the purse strings throughout the month, however do we really need to spend money to enjoy ourselves? Get wrapped up and go outdoors, even if it’s just for 10 minutes. Fresh air is good for digestion, improves your blood pressure and heart rate, it makes you happier and strengthens your immune system.

Do something that makes you happy! 

Listen to some music.

Practice mindfulness, don’t know what the fuss is about?  See this NHS link to learn how to be more mindful.

Eat your favourite food.

Have a duvet day in front of the TV watching repeat episodes of your favourite programme (for me, this would always be repeat episodes of Friends).

The Samaritans have turned Blue Monday into Brew Monday by encouraging you to beat the January Blues and getting together with your friends, family or colleagues over a brew and raise vital funds for Samaritans.

Whatever you do to beat the January Blues, make sure it is something you enjoy doing.  As always, remember you can also speak with the Macmillan Support Line team of experts. Call for free on 0808 808 0000 (7 days a week, 8am to 8pm) or by email.