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Blue Monday Survival Guide

Blue Monday – the third Monday of January – is cited as the most dismal day of the year. Despite its popularity, there's no scientific evidence that Blue Monday is inherently different from any other day. However, it's true that the winter months can pose challenges for many individuals, which can be attributed to certain factors: 

  • Poor weather conditions and less sunlight 

  • Accumulated debt from the holiday season 

  • Decreased motivation and productivity tied to New Year's resolutions 

  • An increasing sense of urgency to take action 

Here are a few strategies to nurture your mental well-being during this time: 

  • Take care of your physical health: Physical and mental health are interconnected. If you have illnesses or vitamin deficiencies, consult your doctor to check if medication or supplements may be helpful.  

  • Eat a balanced diet: Many people eat excessively over the holidays and then go on strict diets. Instead, aim for well-balanced meals with plenty of fruits and vegetables and try to avoid foods that may affect your emotions negatively. 

  • Balanced sleep: Between 7 to 9 hours of sleep is adequate for most people. 

  • Exercise regularly: By practicing your favourite workout or exercising for at least 20 minutes a day, you can boost your mood and energy. 

To help you navigate the winter months and combat those Monday Blues, here are some evidence-based tips from Starling Minds

  1. Reframe failing as learning: It’s normal to set New Year’s resolutions, but also understandable if you fall a bit short. A growth mindset allows you to view failure as an opportunity to learn and grow, rather than a sign of inadequacy. 

  1. Break goals into smaller pieces: Breaking a large goal into smaller, sequential steps can help it to feel less overwhelming. 

  1. Reward yourself: Rewards activate your brain’s dopamine pathway, creating feelings of satisfaction and accomplishment. This increases your desire to repeat behaviours and raises self-motivation. 

  1. Make progress: Research suggests that progress is the strongest determinant of job satisfaction. This suggests that taking time to stop, acknowledge and celebrate small wins can help boost well-being and build a sense of personal momentum. 

  1. Boost your dopamine and oxytocin levels: Oxytocin is a hormone that is associated with social bonding and feelings of safety. If you’re feeling isolated or lonely, some ways to boost oxytocin levels include: 

  • Practicing self-kindness and self-compassion 

  • Mindfulness meditation 

  • Resting and sleeping 

  • Sending a message expressing gratitude to people you care about 

Dopamine, on the other hand, is associated with reward, pleasure and motivation. When we’re down and demotivated, dopamine-boosting techniques can help us to overcome low motivational levels. For example: 

  • Physical exercise, movement or dancing 

  • Eating healthy foods that are high in protein and good fats 

  • Trying something new 

  • Practicing gratitude 

  • Celebrating small victories 

Winter months can be hard, but adequate self-care, regular physical activity and social support can help prevent and manage mental health issues. 

Feeling stressed? Discover Starling Mental Fitness, a 24/7, confidential digital mental health program with check-ups, guided training sessions, mindfulness exercises, and a supportive community to help you overcome feelings of stress, anxiety, burnout and depression. OTIP plan members and their eligible family members (16+) can access services from Starling Minds for free.  

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