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blue monday mental health beating the january blues winter depression winter blues symptoms blue monday myth

Beating the January blues: Turn Blue Monday into Bliss Monday


Blue Monday started around 2005 when a travel company used a non-scientific “formula” to calculate a day encompassing low mood and winter blues symptoms. It used a medley of factors like weather, low motivation, financial and goal setting barriers to propose the Blue Monday myth [1]. It was meant to be a PR strategy to sell holiday getaways. Yet, years on, Blue Monday stuck around and added to the winter depression conversation, despite lack of any research evidence confirming its credibility. The good news is that there are scientific ways of beating the January blues that you can adopt to turn your Blue Monday into Bliss Monday. 

Start your Monday with a serotonin boost

January brings periods of low natural light, which intensifies the low mood symptoms of seasonal affective disorder. Your happy brain chemical, serotonin, is responsible for regulating your mood. Making more serotonin in your brain can brighten up your mood. Protein rich foods like beef, tofu, and dairy, contain tryptophan, the building block of serotonin. A small part of this is converted to 5-HTP which is then converted to serotonin. A more efficient way of increasing serotonin is intake of 5-HTP supplement to boost levels quickly. Try the world’s smallest, nutrient-dense tablet made of 98% 5-HTP from £13.99. 

Get moving for a brighter Monday

Your body is happy when it's moving. Improving your physical activity levels is one of the best Blue Monday mental health tips you can take on board. Physical activity improves mood and mental wellbeing due to increased flow of blood to the brain, regulation of stress response, and activation of areas that control mood and motivation [6]. There are numerous options apart from going to the gym for a dose of good mood. Physical activity of all kinds can help you feel better:

  • Walking for 40-60 minutes can improve your mood by almost 20% [2]
  • If you prefer the gym approach, 36 minutes on the bike at moderate intensity can lower depressive scores by almost 25% [3]
  • Swimming can also refresh your mood. Depressive scores decreased by over 60% after pool swimming and almost 50% after an open water swim [4]
  • Dancing for 75 minutes, twice a week can reduce depressive scores by over 25% [5]

Gear up for a motivational Monday

Mid-January is the perfect time to review the resolutions and amp up the motivation to stay on track. Your reward and pleasure brain chemical, dopamine can help. Dopamine also drives the motivation to achieve goals, as seen in energetic hard workers who have higher dopamine levels [7]. Its release prompts you to overcome the fear and challenges of the task at hand to achieve the rewarding feeling [8]. A protein building block called tyrosine is used to produce dopamine in the brain. It is found in dairy, meat, and tofu and as a supplement. Adequate tyrosine is essential for dopamine production. The world’s 1st natural 800mg tyrosine capsule made from fermented corn is one way to safely boost tyrosine levels. 

Get spiritual for a calmer Monday

The World Religion Day is celebrated on the Sunday before Blue Monday. Carry the essence of the day into Blue Monday and use this as an opportunity to connect to your spiritual side. Spirituality is associated with positive emotions such as gratitude and peacefulness partly due to its effect on the brain’s emotional regulation process [10]. Those attending religious gatherings had over 40% lower risk of depression [9]. Those who engage in spiritual practices on a regular basis report higher levels of happiness and optimism [11]. If you are less spiritually inclined, practising meditation can help boost your mood. Meditation is being mindful and reconnecting with self to achieve feelings of calm. A 13-minutes meditation session improved mood and decreased tiredness, promoting better mental wellbeing [12].

Adopting simple scientific strategies like increasing serotonin levels, being active and motivated and reconnecting to your spiritual side, can turn any gloomy day into a day of joy and wellbeing. 


  1. Sheerin, P. (2021). What is Blue Monday and how to overcome it? [online] We Are Wellbeing. 
  2. Brand, S. et al. (2018). Acute Bouts of Exercising Improved Mood, Rumination and Social Interaction in Inpatients With Mental Disorders. Frontiers in psychology9, 249.
  3. Ligeza, T. S. et al. (2023). The effects of a single aerobic exercise session on mood and neural emotional reactivity in depressed and healthy young adults: A late positive potential study. Psychophysiology60(1), e14137. 
  4. Massey, H. et al. (2020). Mood and well‐being of novice open water swimmers and controls during an introductory outdoor swimming programme: A feasibility study. Lifestyle Medicine, 1(2).
  5. Hyvönen, K. et al. (2020). The Effects of Dance Movement Therapy in the Treatment of Depression: A Multicenter, Randomized Controlled Trial in Finland. Frontiers in psychology11, 1687.
  6. Sharma, A. et al. (2006). Exercise for mental health. Primary care companion to the Journal of clinical psychiatry8(2), 106.
  7. Treadway, M.T. et al. (2012). Dopaminergic Mechanisms of Individual Differences in Human Effort-Based Decision-Making. The Journal of Neuroscience, [online] 32(18), pp.6170–6176.
  8. Salinas-Hernández, X.I. et al. (2018). Dopamine neurons drive fear extinction learning by signaling the omission of expected aversive outcomes. eLife, 7.
  9. Lucchetti, G. et al. (2021). Spirituality, religiousness, and mental health: A review of the current scientific evidence. World journal of clinical cases9(26), 7620–7631.
  10. Van Cappellen, P. et al. (2022). The Scientific Study of Positive Emotions and Religion/Spirituality. Handbook of Positive Psychology, Religion, and Spirituality, pp.315–328. 
  11. Ellison, C.G. and Fan, D. (2007). Daily Spiritual Experiences and Psychological Well-being Among US Adults. Social Indicators Research, 88(2), pp.247–271.
  12. Basso, J.C. et al. (2019). Brief, daily meditation enhances attention, memory, mood, and emotional regulation in non-experienced meditators. Behavioural Brain Research, 356(356), pp.208–220

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