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How to stay fighting fit this ‘Blue Monday’

Try balancing your diet by including more fruits, vegetables, lean proteins and healthy fats.

Mustard, fries in short supply due to Canada climate woes
Snow covers soya fields at the Belfontaine Holstein farm in Quebec in early December 2021 - Copyright AFP Behrouz MEHRI
Snow covers soya fields at the Belfontaine Holstein farm in Quebec in early December 2021 - Copyright AFP Behrouz MEHRI

The third Monday in January, for those in the Northern Hemisphere, is dubbed “Blue Monday”. It also, as the name partly suggests, known as the saddest day of the year. Feeling down on this day could be a sign of the winter blues. It represents one of the most common days for employees to call in sick.

The idea of ‘Blue Monday’ is not supported by all psychologists, who regard the day as the product of media invention. Nonetheless, the day does symbolize the overall feelings that many hold about the winter months.

For others, this time of year brings forth mental health challenges and the “Blue Monday” feelings last all season. For many, the short and gloomy days drain their energy levels and affect the individual’s mental health. These feelings are invariably a sign Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD).

This is a form of depression and it is triggered by changes in weather and daylight that occur in winter. In the most serious cases, patients can exhibit as feelings of hopelessness and worthlessness, thoughts of suicide, and loss of interest in activities. Other symptoms include withdrawal from social interaction, sleep and appetite problems, and difficulty with concentrating.

There are, however, some steps that can be undertaken together with some effective treatments and preventive measures for SAD.

The steps to be considered have been reviewed by the healthcare firm MedStar Health. The medical company has provided Digital Journal with some advice on how to ease Seasonal Affective Disorder for both Blue Monday and beyond January 17th.

These tips include:

Consider Light Therapy

SAD is triggered by changes in our exposure to sunlight. Sitting in front of a special type of light box for about 30 to 45 minutes every morning can reduce your symptoms of SAD. Make sure you talk to your doctor about whether this treatment option is the right one for you.

Maintain A Balanced Diet

People affected by SAD tend to crave more sugary foods which allows your body to feel greater fatigue. Try balancing your diet by including more fruits, vegetables, lean proteins and healthy fats. When you eat better, you feel better.

Make A Plan

Are you oversleeping or spending more time in bed? Develop a “fun menu” of activities, daily exercise, and outings that can help you when you’re looking for an uplifting diversion.

Check Your Vitamin D Levels

Lack of sunshine means lower levels of Vitamin D – which is a nutrient your body needs! Try spending time outdoors when the sun is at its highest, your doctor might also recommend Vitamin D supplements if your body needs an extra boost.

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Written By

Dr. Tim Sandle is Digital Journal's Editor-at-Large for science news. Tim specializes in science, technology, environmental, and health journalism. He is additionally a practising microbiologist; and an author. He is also interested in history, politics and current affairs.

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