Today, Blue Monday, is coined to be the most depressing day of the year. Whilst this term was initially started by a travel company's marketing campaign over ten years ago (encouraging us to book holidays!), it has stuck, and many people do feel that that cold weather and dark nights can make January a less forgiving month.
Earlsfield's Skip Oliver, founder of whYoga,writes her top tips on a daily routine that may help uplift spirits and wellbeing.
1. Start the day with something positive
Embrace an immediate optimistic viewpoint by telling yourself you are something that you wish to be, such as ‘I am patient and understanding’. Try to exercise before other commitments take hold and to boost your overall mood. If you can, enjoy a short walk in natural surroundings or a short yoga sequence. If you are feeling up for it, try a few rounds of the Sun Salute.
2. Consider carefully what you consume first thing
Drinking water and eating a balanced protein and slow-release carbohydrate breakfast can fill you with energy. Hydration and balanced sugars are the key to equilibrium. You could try eating in silence to focus your attention on the taste, smell and feel of your food.
Mid-morning, snack on a banana and half an hour later some nuts and seeds with a few cacao nibs. This will maintain your alertness and stop you binging at lunchtime.
3. Bless the elements and think positive
Try blessing the day with a ‘Namaste’ first thing, and blessing your food before you eat at a meal to experience gratitude. Other useful techniques include practising 3 rounds of Alternative Nostril Breathing (anuloma viloma) to experience positive thinking and overcome tension, worry and forgetfulness.
4. Keep your energy levels up
Take a walk in the park and commune with nature, it’s meditative and connects you to the life throb of ages, putting everything into perspective. Breathe deeply, filling your blood with oxygen. You could even practise a short Chair Yoga Sequence to prevent the afternoon plummet of energy.
At lunchtime, try to eat a high protein, low carbohydrate meal to maintain your energy. A fatty acid called docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) is the most abundant fat found in the brain. Two major sources are fish and shellfish. Research has shown that a deficiency in DHA can increase the prevalence of depression- so try and include sustainably caught shellfish or fish in your lunchbox.
5. Spend your free time well
After work, if you can afford to, donate a small amount of money to a charity box. You will receive a pleasure response in the form of a warm glow.
Exercise also causes the pituitary gland to release powerful, mood-boosting chemicals, so exercise more intensely in the evening, attending a yoga class where you can round off the day harnessing your mind and tuning your body. Alternatively, take a long, pacey walk (with or without a dog!)
6. Switch off
In the evening, reduce your exposure to screens and eat a light supper of your chosen comfort food with more carbohydrates and less protein to induce sleepiness. Many people enjoy drinking 'sleep' teas and, if you can, go to bed before 10pm. I'd always recommend you read a book, this will help you switch off from your own life. To help you switch off, you could write down any pressing things that enter your mind to take them out of your mind and on to a page, leaving your mind clear for sleep. If helpful, practice 6 rounds of Alternative Nostril Breathing, put on an eye mask with a spritz of lavender and Zzzzzzz.
Om Mane Padme Hum – blessing from Skip Oliver at whYoga.