January is time for New Year's resolutions, getting fit and starting a whole new chapter in the book that is 2021. But it's also time for Blue Monday on 18 January, aka the "most depressing" day of the year.
In any normal year, Blue Monday would mean a January mood slump because it's cold, you're back at work and all of the festive fun of Christmas is suddenly a distant memory. But the least upbeat day on the calendar has taken on new meaning in 2021 due to coronavirus, and the stress and uncertainty that comes along with it. That's why we've come up with some easy ways you can add some lightness and positivity to your life to boost your mood on Blue Monday or any day.
5 ways to support your family's mental health during the pandemic
7 mood-boosting foods to lift your spirits during lockdown
Suffering from SAD? These are the top-rated light boxes and lamps
What is Blue Monday and when is it?
Typically marked the third Monday of January, Blue Monday was actually first launched in 2005 as a marketing scheme by Sky Travel, a holiday company which claimed to have carefully calculated which day was the "most depressing" of the year. Later though, Dr Cliff Arnall, who developed the concept, began to campaign against it and the growing focus on the negative connotations. Instead, he encourages us to look at the positive. “Whether embarking on a new career, meeting new friends, taking up a new hobby or booking a new adventure, January is actually a great time to make those big decisions for the year ahead," he said.
Many now look at the day as a moment to take stock and increase awareness of mental health issues. Self-care has become so important over the past year, that's especially true this January, for 'Blue Monday' and beyond. So here are the little things that you can do to give yourself a necessary dose of positivity as we kick off 2021.
1. Have a cup of positivi-TEA
Yes, a good ol’ cup of tea. Perhaps kick start your day with a cup of chamomile tea which is said to help calm anxiety. Also, you can also save lives with a cuppa – Samaritans is "turning Blue Monday on its head" by encouraging people to connect over a virtual cuppa on "Brew Monday". "Reach out to a friend, family member or colleague for a virtual cuppa and a chat," reads the website. "It doesn’t have to be a Monday or a cup of tea, just taking time to really listen to another person could help them work through what’s on their mind. Because now more than ever, sharing a cuppa is more than a drink – it's about reaching out, checking in and staying connected." You can also use Brew Monday to help raise funds for the charity. Go to samaritans.org for more info.
2. Dance like no one's watching
Due to COVID, London dance workout favourite Seen on Screen have put in-person classes on hold, but the good news is that you can take part in fabulous online classes via its sister brand, School of SOS. Go to @schoolofsos on Instagram to check out the lineup of online classes, and just go to Insta Live to take part. You could also buy a karaoke machine and sing your troubles away - just stay away from the ballads.
3. Read a self-care book
Amazon's best-selling books of 2020 list is filled with life-transforming reads for you to start off the New Year. And Ten to Zen by Owen O’Kane, with celebrity fans including Fearne Cotton, Dame Kelly Holmes, Joe Wicks and Saira Khan, is one to read if you want to improve mental health. The book reveals the clinically-researched techniques to help reduce stress and anxiety, and generally feel calmer and happier.
4. Wear something colourful
It’s no secret, colour can be a mood booster, and colour analyst Gabriella Winters of Chromology UK explains: “People absorb and reflect the same colours differently depending on their unique biological makeup. When a colour is placed adjacent to your face, it will reflect its wavelength onto you.” Wearing the “right” colours can make you appear healthier, more radiant and make your eyes and hair ‘pop’. However, the wrong ones can have the opposite effect. “Yellowish or greenish casts from too-warm colours are common, greyish or reddish casts from too-cool colours are also typical.”
RELATED: Experts reveal a good outfit can instantly boost your mood
5. Buy flowers... for you or someone else!
Because bringing a smile to someone else is what life is all about. Someone might be feeling more blue than you, so this is something you can do to bring a smile to both of your faces. There are plenty of options for ordering online, from premium arrangements from Bloom & Wild to lovely seasonal flowers from Marks & Spencer. Take it from us, you will make someone's day!
RELATED: Gift ideas to cheer your loved ones in isolation
6. Have a hair makeover
Blue Monday doesn’t have to be depressing when you can lift your mood with a brand new hairdo! We've compiled a list of the best temporary pink hair colours for an 'I'm bored at home' hair transformation.
7. Indulge in aromatherapy, right down to your fragrance
Blue Monday isn’t the day to get it wrong when it comes to your fragrance which is why we’ll be opting for something zesty and uplifting like the Jo Malone Grapefruit Cologne, £94. According to some studies, grapefruit can curb depression and enhance memory. What’s more, research from Japan’s Osaka University shows that the scent of grapefruit actually boosts metabolism and reduces food cravings.
8. Listen to a podcast
Searching for a good podcast? Well we've listed seven of our favourites! Our picks range from Strictly Come Dancing and Radio 1 star Clara Amfo's This City to famed food critic Jay Rayner's Out to Lunch. And if you love sport and a good laugh, check out James Haskell, Mike Tindall and Alex Payne's The Good, The Bad & The Rugby.
9. Watch something fun on TV
If you haven't already binge-watched some of 2020's most popular upbeat shows and movies, it's time to do it! For a colourful mood boost, The Prom's costumes and show tunes will have you dancing in your living room. To imagine your future travel adventures (and OUTFITS!) there's Emily in Paris, while Schitt's Creek is fab for some major LOLs. Watch Never Have I Ever to re-live your most awkward teen romance moments, or check out Shondaland's Bridgerton for a soapy period piece that will have you fully hooked.
10. Have some pamper time
The link between stress and skin is undeniable, and you might find yourself with dull, dry skin this Blue Monday - which is why an evening pamper could be just what the Doctor ordered. Before you go to sleep, light a scented candle (Diptyque's Baies candle, £27, is a favourite of Meghan Markle), and enjoy a long soak in the bath. We swear by the Revive Morning Bath and Shower Oil by Aromatherapy Associates, £49, for the ultimate de-stress soak. Afterwards, it’s all about the skin care. The Elizabeth Arden Flawless Future Night Cream, £40, not only has an inspired name, but it also revitalises the skin’s appearance and is clinically proven to help induce a more restful sleep while also targeting first signs of ageing.
11. Treat yourself to a gift
Raise your hand if online shopping helped you survive 2020! Pampering is nice, and so is reading a lovely book, but let's face it, sometimes the thrill of purchase will release the endorphins you need for a temporary boost. And after buying gifts for everyone over the Christmas period, it's time to treat yourself. If, like us, you’re STILL waiting for payday, we’ll be using Klarna’s pay later option. Online January sales, here we come!
12. Catch up with your loved ones
One of the easiest ways to boost your mood is to catch up with family and friends. Whether a one-on-one chat on the phone or FaceTime, or a Zoom call with all of your favourite people, speaking to your loved ones is a sure fire way to feel happier this Blue Monday.
13. Make a romantic connection
If you're single, you’ll be interested to know that Tinder saw the biggest sign-ups to the dating app on the eve of Blue Monday last year. We admit that pandemic Zoom dating isn't exactly optimal, but with a return to a new normal on the horizon (hopefully), it seems like its never too soon to start finding your Mr Right.
14. Take a nap
We're big fans of relaxing your way to a better mood. Listen to some music, read a book, write your goals in a journal (we love The Head Plan), spritz your pillow with mood lifting lavender, and catch some well-deserved mid-day Zs.
15. Marie Kondo (or The Home Edit!) your life
An uncluttered space is an uncluttered mind... and getting organised is a brilliant mood booster. If you’ve watched Tidying Up with Marie Kondo on Netflix – or have read the organising guru's books – you’ll be eager to spark joy and transform your home life. Meanwhile, if you're a fan The Home Edit's expert organisers Clea and Joanna, from 2020's Netflix hit, re-watch the show and check out their bestseller,
RELATED: 5 top storage techniques to give your home the Home Edit treatment
16. Reach out
Sometimes the January slump goes much deeper and you may be suffering in a way that can't be solved with a simple fix. If you are in need of mental health support, reaching out to Heads Together, a campaign coordinated by the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, and their charity partners is one place to start.
If you need immediate support, you can text SHOUT to 85258 anytime day or night and chat by text.
If you’re feeling more than blue, or know someone who is, Samaritans offer emotional support. Call Samaritans for free anytime on 116 123 – this number won’t show up on your phone bill. You can also send an email or download the organisation's self-help app. To make an appointment to speak with a trained volunteer, call 01462 455333.
HELLO!'s selection is editorial and independently chosen – we only feature items our editors love and approve of. HELLO! may collect a share of sales or other compensation from the links on this page. To find out more visit our FAQ page.