11 Ways To Beat the Monday Blues
Can we agree 2020 was a spectacularly challenging year? A total dumpster fire. And while we are at it, can we stop with the #soblessed hashtags? Maybe save them for when we are in line to get vaccinated and not for jetting about and breaching the travel ban? Much obliged, it's doing our head in.
Coming up? Blue Monday. Or as it is also known as the most depressing day of the year. But you know what? After the year we all had, we'll be damned if we'll let one day get us down. It is not rocket science - just simple steps to make ourselves feel better on what is supposed to be the "worst day" of the year.
That said, there is a difference between being down in the dumps and feeling depressed and anxious. If you are struggling and can't cope, if it is affecting your quality of life - please talk to someone. If nothing else, contact your GP and see how they can help. Sometimes, the act itself can make you feel like a heavy load was lifted. We tend to neglect our mental health, but help is available if you need it.
If you have no access to a medical professional and have problems coping, Samaritans can help. Call them for free on 116 123. They also have resources to guide you if you need specialist help with a specific issue.
At one point last year, everything we saw on the news was so relentlessly horrible, we didn't know whether to laugh or cry. So, we did both? Laughter has a positive effect on our psychological and physiological well-being. It helps us release endorphins, soothes tension, and boosts our immune system. Binge-watch an old sit-com (Only Fools and Horses or Keeping Up Appearances always work). Or find a new favourite (Brooklyn Nine-Nine, Schitt's Creek, Kim's Convenience are all on Netflix). Cats and dogs videos never fail us. If you are on Instagram, give Leslie Jordan a follow, he is absolutely immense and always good for a giggle.
And if anything made you snort with laughter, please share. We could all do with a laugh.
It is time to put on your best gym gear and crack on like Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson. No, not really. As much as we love the Rock, we are confident if we did attempt any of his workouts, our legs would give out. Also, we'd bust a spleen and need medical attention. That said, regular exercise helps reduce the risk of chronic illnesses and remains one of the best ways to improve our mood. It helps reduce stress, anxiety, and depression.
Gyms are closed, and due to government guidelines, we are limited in what we can do and where we can go. But, there is a whole universe of exercise videos on YouTube. Yoga works, too (Yoga with Adriene is our go-to). Wrap up warm and go for a walk. Fresh air does wonders, we promise. If none of this appeals to you, put on some music and dance it out. It'll feel silly at first, but it is hard to stay in a bad mood when you are doing your best Beyonce impression.
When was the last time you played? Like proper played when you lost track of time because you were so engrossed with what you were doing? We can't remember. It's time to give yourself the gift of play. And you know whose great with that? Children. If you have kids, don't shoo them away the next time they want to have a tea party, do the Renegade on TikTok, or whatever the kids are into these days. Board games are also fab, albeit, can get a little competitive. If you have pets, play with them. Dogs will be overjoyed. Cats will play when they want to, for as long as they want to. And then they'll slap you away. But, hey, that is why we love our feline overlords!
If neither of these is an option, grab an adult colouring book, do a jigsaw puzzle, or install a computer game. Can we let you in on a little secret? LEGOs are our jam.
It's as simple as finding something that is fun to do. Then do it.
Lean On Your Support System
As corny as it sounds - it's ok if you are not fine. What is even better than admitting it yourself? To verbalise it to someone else. 2020 bombarded us with trauma likes of which we never experienced before. And that's not counting all of our personal sh*t. We might be Wonder Women, but even Wonder Woman needs a break. If you have a support system, use it. Leaning on your loved ones isn't a sign of weakness. It's acknowledging - hey, actually I'm not fine and could use a moment to gather myself. Once you start talking about it, you'll be amazed how many of us feel the same way or are experiencing the same thing.
Don't Skip Your Skincare Routine
If you are feeling low, often, routines can go out the window. And skincare might seem like a trivial thing, what difference is it going to make if we don't wash our faces at night? Granted - your face won't fall off or anything. But taking a few minutes first thing in the morning or the last thing at night can serve as a self-care ritual. A way to take a breath, unwind, and self-soothe. Does it sound like New Age-y nonsense? Yes. Does it work? Absolutely. In the words of our lovely founder - the ritual of looking after ourselves has a direct impact on our happiness and confidence.
Help Someone Else
The pandemic showed the systems we live in are broken. There are inequality and systemic racism. Don't get us started on the sheer incompetence of the people in charge. And make no mistake, this doesn't apply to the UK only. Many countries globally showed us how woefully unprepared they were for any disaster, let alone a pandemic.
Unfortunately, that means many people are suffering. Physically, mentally, economically. Hygiene poverty is still a thing. The beauty industry had to open and close so many times, people lost their livelihoods overnight. Children are going hungry.
There aren't many things that will get you out of your head and make you feel better than helping someone else. Help how you can and when you can. Donate if you can. Volunteer, if it is possible (obviously, the way charities operate these days has changed drastically, but it doesn't hurt to ask what you can do). Also, it doesn't need to be a huge thing. Call the elderly neighbour across the street and have a chat. You might be the first person they spoke to that day. To borrow one of Instagram's favourite quotes - no act of kindness is ever wasted.
2020 robbed us of many (MANY) things. Hugs, seeing our families and friends, going to the cinema, travel, the list is endless. It also left us unable to make plans. How can we plan to go for lunch with friends when we don't know which tier we'll wake up in?
Well, my friends, now is the time to start making (tentative) plans again. Needless to say, don't do anything crazy and book a non-refundable trip to the Maldives. We are not in that stage of the pandemic just yet. But nothing is stopping you from looking up staycation destinations towards the end of the year. Or booking tickets for a gig or that facial you haven't had in ages. It can do wonders for our mental health to have something to look forward to.
Are you getting enough rest? We are spending most of our time at home, that must mean we are getting enough rest. The irony is, just because we are spending most of our time in loungewear doesn't mean we are rested. A study conducted during the first lockdown shows a large increase in people experiencing anxiety-induced sleep problems. And guess what, women are worse affected than men. Because, of course, we are.
What can we do to get a good night's rest? Establish a nightly routine that will help you switch off more easily. Do your nightly skincare routine, read a book, and switch off the news. Another thing that can help is putting away your mobile. It serves a dual purpose. It stops you from mindlessly scrolling through social media last thing in the evening and limits your exposure to blue light, which can shift your circadian rhythms. If you are still struggling to dose off, try a white noise machine, plenty of people swear by them.
Meditation can be a polarizing subject - some people swear by it, others can't understand what the fuss is about. It might be off-putting because we associate a specific image with the people who meditate. Someone sitting in a tranquil room, with the incense burning while they chant away. Honestly? Our bums would fall asleep.
To us, meditation means getting comfy and watching our thoughts. That is all. In the beginning, it might feel like it's not working. The key is to persevere. Soon enough, you'll realise the thoughts will come and go, and you'll have no attachment to them. It's another way to centre ourselves. The Headspace app can be a great place to start. And if sitting still isn't your thing, you can always try a walking or dance meditation (it's a thing!).
Often, we women can feel guilty about spending time or money on ourselves.
Let's switch the perspective on that and ask you - what would you say or do for a friend who is going through a tough time? Chances are you'd tell her to treat herself with kindness, no? The same applies to you. Treat yourself with kindness.
At the moment, things are financially precarious for many of us. When we say treat yourself, that doesn't necessarily mean going crazy on Net-a-Porter and spending money you don't have. Although, if you can, by all means, do.
Treating yourself doesn't have to cost a lot or anything at all. Dig up that mask from your stash and have a spa night. Fancy a piece of cake for breakfast? Have at it. Get some fresh cut flowers at the supermarket or a potted plant for your window still. Dress up or put on some makeup if you feel like it. Empathy, kindness, and compassion you have for other people in your life? Extend it to yourself.
Limit Your News Intake
Any psychiatrist will tell you - the key to keeping your sanity during the pandemic is to limit your news intake. Look, we know it can be difficult. But there is a difference between staying informed and being glued to a screen 24/7. Find a source you trust and check it a couple of times per day. Preferably not immediately before you go to bed. That is more than enough to stay on top of things.
Another thing that might be helpful is to cull your social media feeds. You don't need to see updates from your auntie's BFF, who is into conspiracy theories, you know?
There you have it - simple steps you can take to make yourself feel happy on the "worst day" of the year. How are you coping with the pandemic? What is one thing you do that instantly makes you feel better?