5 Ways to Beat Blue Monday
January 16th 2020
Blue Monday, which falls on 20 January this year, is given the unfortunate title of the most depressing day of the year. The concept was first developed by a professor who calculated the date based on metrics like season, day of the week, cold weather, dark nights and mounting post-holiday credit card bills, among other things.
While there is some skepticism around the science behind the date, it does serve an important purpose to call attention to the very real issue of depression, on Blue Monday or any day. To honour the day, it’s helpful to talk about how we can best battle depression. Exercise can be an effective, affordable and risk-free way to beat depression and feel a bit better. In this post, we share five ways that you can get outside this January, beat the Blue Monday blues and stay motivated during the long winter months and throughout 2020.
1) Set a Big, but Achievable Goal
First thing’s first: Set a goal. What would you like to accomplish by this summer? What about by the end of the year? This might be registering for and finishing a 5K or completing your first marathon. Or perhaps you have a target training time you’d like to beat. Remember that beneficial exercise takes all sorts of forms, not just running or going to the gym. Your goal might just be to do something physical every day, like gardening, cleaning the house, walking your dog or dancing!
Once you have a goal, think about some different steps to help you achieve it. One strategy is to develop a consistent training routine – perhaps waking up a bit earlier a few days per week. Another approach is to set aside a specific amount of time for exercise and activity, be it an hour, 30 minutes or even just a 20-minute block of “me time”.
This first step is often the hardest, but try to stick with your routine for at least a week, if not a month. You may discover that once you commit to a routine, it becomes a regular part of your lifestyle, beyond Blue Monday. And don’t give up on your goal! One study suggests that it takes about two months to form a habit. If you miss one training day, focus on the next one.
2) Beat the Blues with a Buddy
Other people can provide encouragement to get outside and be active, especially on cold winter days. As in life, you don’t have to go it alone when it comes to exercise. Walking or running with a friend can motivate you to get outside and to stick to your exercise plan. Ask a friend to join you or find a colleague from your office who would like to get outside over lunch or after work. Combining socialisation with outside activity can provide both emotional and physical support to boost your mood.
Don’t have a companion that enjoys training? Consider joining a local running or cycling club to meet a few new friends. If you look online for clubs in the UK, you’ll see several searchable directories to find the best group by level or geography. For starters, try the Good Run Guide, Coach Mag, Run Together or England Athletics. Or start your own!
3) Be Social, Online!
While social media has been found to contribute to depression and anxiety, especially among younger people, it can also be a helpful tool when it comes to getting outside, getting active and feeling good. Use social media to stay motivated by sharing your runs or rides on your social channels. You won’t be alone and, really, everything is game – one study spotted over 32 million Instagram posts tagged with #run, including running times, routes, selfies and even pictures of new running trainers. The same study compared runners who never shared runs on social media with regular sharers. It found that runners who share posts on social media are more likely to run a faster 5K and complete a marathon!
Sharing your progress on social media may benefit others, too. Your followers might be inspired by your posts to get out and train themselves, whether it’s to beat their own blues or to boost fundraising efforts for a charity run or ride.
4) The Reward Goes To… You!
Sometimes it’s helpful to seek motivation via small rewards for your efforts. This might be new trainers or running gear, like running vests or warm layers for outdoor exercise. If you're part of a running group, you might also consider creating branded training gear for your team, like matching branded sweatbands or water bottles with creative designs or inspirational quotes. One idea is a fabric or “festival-style” wristband, which you can design in unlimited colours and intricate woven designs. It’s a perfect way to combine your creativity and artistry with your athleticism for an inspirational pick-me-up for yourself, your running buddy or your entire running club.
5) Register to Feel Good and Do Good
Entering an event, such as a 5K or 10K, is a great way to provide a target for your training and feel good about your accomplishment. For an added boost and impact, consider signing up as part of a charity team to help raise funds for a cause that means something to you. There's plenty of charities that offer spots in races, so do your research and find the one that's good for you.
For example, if you’d like to support mental health issues, the Mind for Better Mental Health charity offers a range of races for all levels, like the London Landmarks Half Marathon in March 2020 or the Tough Mudder 5K in June. You can even find your own run or ride that suits you and register to fundraise and complete it on behalf of Mind. In exchange, you’ll get a Mind running vest, fundraising support and connection to other Mind runners.
There’s several resources available to help you find a suitable run or ride. To start, try Find a Race, Time Outdoors and UK Fitness Events.
We hope this helps you get outside and get active this January to beat Blue Monday and boost your mood, every day and throughout 2020. Does running help you feel better? What other tips do you have to keep it up? Please get in touch with us today, and we hope to see you out there!