Today is Blue Monday – the day of the year when, scientists say, we’re at our most depressed.
What a lovely thought.
It’s fuelled by the crappy weather, high debt levels, the Christmas comedown and flailing motivation to stick to our New Year’s resolutions – basically we’re bored, poor and want to start eating chocolate again.
Although I’m not 100% thrilled with the idea of Blue Monday – sometimes I think that telling people they’re really depressed can be a bit self-perpetuating – it’s fair to say this isn’t the jolliest time of year.
So here are 18 little things you can do that will make you feel instantly happier…
If you have… 1 minute
1. Text a friend you haven’t spoken to in ages
There’s nothing like catching up with a close friend, or just letting them know you’re thinking of them, to make you feel all warm and fluffy inside.
2. Make a cup of tea
Oh god the amount of times I’m at work thinking ‘I’m dying for a cuppa’ but convince myself I can’t possibly tear myself away from my desk for one minute to make one. Life is ALWAYS better with a tea on the go (plus health experts say we should be getting up from our desks regularly) so just move yo-self.
3. Water your plant
Looking after nature is, in itself, therapeutic – researchers have found that having plants around you improves feelings of wellbeing and reduces anxiety. Plus, let’s be honest, there is nothing more depressing than realising you’re the type of person who can’t keep a pot plant alive – get watering!
4. Give someone a compliment
Sorry to sound slushy, but making other people feel good makes you feel good. It’s time to tell that person you work with that they’re looking damn fine today (in a less creepy way).
5. Spray yourself with your poshest perfume or aftershave
The one that makes you feel like one of those fancy, gorgeous people on the fragrance adverts, who for some unexplained reason are zipping around Venice on a speedboat or wistfully rolling around under a translucent bedsheet.
6. Google ‘cute baby elephants’
And spend 60 seconds looking at cute baby elephants. Their trunks! Their ears! Their sweet, fluffy heads!
If you have… 5 minutes
7. Listen to your favourite upbeat song
NO weepy stuff. Whether it’s the Bee Gees or Beyonce, make sure you dance, sing or strut with full vigour.
8. Book yourself in at a restaurant you really want to go to
Snap up a table and then think about who you’d really like some quality time with.
9. Reply to the email you’ve been putting off forever.
You will feel so relieved afterwards that your mood will instantly be lifted!
If you have 15 minutes…
10. Browse the web for a really great birthday present for your friend/family member
There’s always another birthday coming up, and all too often you find yourself chucking some last minute purchase at your mate or telling them (untruthfully) that you ‘left the present at home’.
The thing is, it’s really nice giving people good presents – ones that you’ve really thought through – and you’ll feel instantly more cheerful once you find the right gift.
11. Eat your favourite chocolate bar
And do it absolutely guilt-free. Rather than just scoffing all the crap food that comes into the office, and feeling bad for it, save yourself and sit down for 15 minutes with a cup of tea and your favourite chocolate. You deserve it!
12. Start planning your next holiday
There’s nothing better to lift the spirits than having a Google for flights and hotels. Even if you’ve got a tiny budget like me, there are so many cool places on Europe you can travel with EasyJet. I’ve just booked Italy for June and seriously, it is seeing me through the January blues!
13. Call your mum
Some of you will read this and be like ‘What, I already call my mum like 16 times a day anyway?’.
But there are others, like me, who sometimes realise they haven’t phoned their parents for weeks, so give them a quick ring (this obviously only applies if you have a good relationship with your mum to begin with!)
14. Pop out and get a coffee
I’m a simple soul and I’m not ashamed to say that a skinny cappuccino or latte brings me joy (#basicbitch). Just remember, those takeaway cups they give are NOT recyclable (they contain plastic) so for extra happiness points take a reusable mug – I’ve got an Ecoffee mug which does the job perfectly (and sometimes in Pret they give you free coffee for being eco-friendly!)
If you have… 30 minutes
15. Watch an episode of your favourite comedy
From Game of Thrones to Westworld, so many really popular TV shows these days are just a bit… serious. And violent and scary. When I’m stressed out or low there’s nothing better than watching a few episodes of Peep Show or The Royle Family to get me back in a good mood.
16. Switch your phone off and read
If you’re already feeling down then scrolling through endless pictures of people having fun on social media or freaking yourself out by reading all your work emails is not going to help.
Instead, put your phone off or in another room and take some time to read offline – I recommend Alexandra Shulman’s Inside Vogue which I’ve recently finished, which shows you what goes into the making the UK’s most iconic magazine.
17. Tidy up
OK bear with me here. I know tidying isn’t everyone’s idea of a laugh, but if you’re the type of person who gets miserable when surrounded by clutter and mess, then spending some time tidying/putting things away/sorting out a charity bag can be hugely therapeutic.
18. Go for a walk with a podcast
Being outdoors has been shown to improve mood, but if you feel a bit aimless just walking around, listen to a good podcast to focus your mind while you get a breath of fresh air. I love Emma Gannon’s IRL podcasts, PanDolly, Jools & Sarah and Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour – but whatever floats your boat really!