“All things are poison and nothing is without poison; only the dose makes a thing not a poison.”
Ever heard of Blue Monday? Sadly, it’s not even a sexy Monday. The third Monday in January is officially christened ‘Blue’ as it has been scientifically calculated to be the most depressing day of the year. Why? Well, perhaps because our resolutions have already given way to regrets, and all promise of ‘New Year, New You’ is replaced with the realisation that it may be a new year, but you’re still the old you. The weather is likely grim and getting warm by any other means than cuddling a radiator seems an impossible fantasy.
Blue Monday was in fact calculated with a formula created by Cardiff University lecturer Cliff Arnall and to support his calculation, the directory of qualified counsellors and psychotherapists: counsellingdirectory.org.uk maintains that traffic to their site is up by 31% in January, peaking on this sad day.
We can all empathise. Recall that Monday in mid-January when even cleaning your teeth was one chore too many and oh look, it’s raining. Again. Naturally, you’re three weeks into the obligatory ‘get fit quick’ programme, focusing on getting rid of all the mince pies and turkey sandwiches with freezing dawn runs, after work workouts and an evil lemon juice cleanse? Also (controversially), perhaps we’re a bit ‘blue’ because we’re three weeks into a ‘dry-a-thon’, and missing hanging out in a pub/bar kicking back with our pals and moaning about global warming? There’s a thought.
Either way, many of us feel that January 1st is the best or only day to start working on those abs, or really get rid of that extra bit of weight. Symbolically it’s a clever tactic, assuaging our guilt as we chow down on all the indulgences of Christmas, promising to be ‘better’ come January 1st.
In reality though, we can of course choose to start living ‘better’ any day we want. It is, after all as simple as saying ‘today is the day’ and committing to it. But, attacking a new lifestyle regime at the dreariest and ‘scientifically proven’ most depressing time of the year is always going to be a struggle, which leads to disappointment in ourselves for lacking the requisite will power to change. Change takes time; 21 days of repeated activity will lead to the formation of a new habit. Stopping for a few days however will break the spell. So, a month of detoxing, drinking kale smoothies and partaking in vigorous activity may cause you to drop a few pounds, but at what cost? Will you be sad or frustrated that you’re not progressing as quickly as you want? Possibly. Because one month is not enough to change you forever, and let’s face it, you’re already pretty great.
But, if you really want to drop a few pounds, or be able to point to a muscle with pride, give yourself this whole year. And the next, and the one after that. Because one month of punishment will make you feel as though you deserve to be punished and really you don’t. Be kind to yourself, run if it makes you happy but don’t run if you hate it. Don’t be a grimacing runner, they’re the worst.
Recent studies show that exercising for weight loss alone is short-lived, but exercising to boost your mood, improve sleep and increase feelings of contentment are some of the reasons that keep us coming back for more. In addition, there is growing evidence to show that enjoying a drink every now and then and enjoying exercise may be linked:
“The reason that exercise is rewarding is that it causes the release of chemicals in the brain that make people feel good, like endorphins and dopamine. Alcohol also increases the levels of dopamine and endorphins, so there’s an overlap in how they affect the brain, chemically speaking. People who are not dependent on either activity may engage moderately in each to prolong the rewarding feelings of happiness produced by these chemicals’
So, find something that makes you happy, be it dancing, skipping, running or hand-standing. Eat well most of the time, not just when the media is full of diet plans or the latest food fad. Be kind to yourself, get enough sleep and grab a drink with your friends. Let’s get to next January and look back on this year with a smile on our faces, ready to remain great rather than become great, or better, or thinner. Because ultimately happiness is not a destination, or something that happens once you’ve lost a couple of pounds or spent a month detoxing. Happiness is the reward for doing something that feels good. So, find something that feels good and keep doing it until it stops feeling good, and then try something else. Let’s help make Blue Mondays a thing of the past (or, at least a little sexier…)
On Thursday 28th January and 4th February, Belvedere are presenting: Drink, Eat, Live! at our Old Street pop-up. If you love to drink delicious cocktails, enjoy scrumptious food and fundamentally, live life to its fullest, join us to learn all about how to drink ‘better’ when armed with just a little bit of knowledge!