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We have probably all heard of Blue Monday, supposedly the bluest and most depressing day of the year. This year, it falls on 17 January. In reality, there is no scientific evidence that this is the hardest day for our mental health, instead our mental health and its’ ups and downs are personal to each and every one of us.  

Even though Blue Monday is a myth, January can be a tough month with cold weather and dark evenings and the feelings of the end of Christmas. So, let Blue Monday be a reminder to check in with yourself and be aware of your own mental health.  

Check in with your mental health  

This can be a good time to check in that you’re meeting your own needs and be honest about how things really are. Here are some questions to get you thinking about your own wellbeing:  

  • Are you looking after your basic needs like a balanced diet, drinking enough water and exercising? 
  • Do you still enjoy the activities you do for fun or with your time off? 
  • Do you feel connected to other people?  
  • Do you find it difficult to sleep or do you feel sleepy most of the time?  
  • Do you have unexplained headaches or stomach aches?  

Remember being honest with yourself about how you feel is the first step in making changes to help your own wellbeing.  You may like to try writing down your answers and reflecting on if they change or fluctuate throughout the months, and what can help to keep you on track and feeling good. 

It is really important to talk to your GP about the thoughts and feelings you may be having. If you are feeling stressed, depressed or anxious they can discuss those feelings with you and help you find the support that is right for you.

Seasonal variations in mental health 

The time of year can have an impact on our mental health and it’s common to be affected by changing seasons and weather, or to have times of year when you feel more or less comfortable. For example, you might find that your mood or energy levels drop when it’s colder or warmer, or notice changes in your sleeping or eating patterns. Often people find winter can be one of the hardest times of year, the main theory is that this is because of a lack of sunlight might stop a part of the brain called the hypothalamus working properly, which may affect production of melatonin (a hormone that makes you sleepy), serotonin (a hormone that affects your mood, appetite and sleep), and your body’s internal body clock. 

Some people may suffer from seasonal affective disorder (SAD) which is a type of depression that comes and goes in a seasonal pattern. The NHS has some resources and information about this here. 

Looking after your mental health  

The Five Ways to Wellbeing can be a useful way of thinking about what you need to be mentally healthy. The Five Ways to Wellbeing were first developed by the New Economics Foundation and include: 

  • Connect: Reach out to friends and family, talks to others, and share what is on your mind. We offer a ‘Here to talk’ befriending service if you could benefit from someone to talk to regularly about how you are feeling 
  • Get Active: Get out of the house if you can and keep your body moving. Why not take a walk to one of our Carer Cafes, or call up a friend to meet at a local park or beauty spot. 
  • Take notice: Remind yourself to take notice of the world around you. This can help ground you in the moment rather than worrying about the future. You could try downloading a mindfulness app on your phone to help you get started. 
  • Learn: Learning new things helps keep your brain active and give you a sense of achievement. We offer a range of training courses that can help with your caring role and help you learn new things. See what training we have coming up on our What’s On page. 
  • Give: Being a part of a community and giving back to others can be great for our wellbeing and sense of belonging. Find out how you can volunteer for us here. 

There is no set way to have these five things in your life, so find what interests and motivates you to connect, learn, get active, give and take notice. 

If you need more support with your mental health, our information hub has links to a range of mental health support. You can also phone us to talk to our friendly team on 0800 181 4118 about support available to you.