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How to Boost Your Mood On Blue Monday

So there's this thing called "Blue Monday" that rolls around every January, just to remind us how miserable the dead of winter is. It lands on the third Monday of January (the most Monday-ish month), and has been dubbed the "most depressing day of the year." (Believe it or not, it even has its own Wikipedia page.)

There's not much scientific evidence showing that people are indeed the most miserable on Blue Monday, but we do have an idea of where it got started. In 2005, U.K. psychologist Dr. Cliff Arnall created an equation that takes into account seven different variables—(W) weather, (D) debt, (d) monthly salary, (T) time since Christmas, (Q) time since you (probably) failed your resolution, (M) low motivational levels and (NA) the need to take action, according to NBC. The formula, [W + (D-d)] x Tq ÷ [M x Na], took all these feelings and circumstances into account to predict that this day would the biggest downer of them all.

While there isn't any research to back it up, you can understand why, for many of us, this is the most "meh" Monday of them all: the holidays are long gone, temps are low (and staying that way), and the sun is nowhere to be found. The next real holiday break is light-years away (hey there, Memorial Day), and we're all realizing that resolutions aren't always fun—or easy.

PSA: Blue Monday is not to be confused with the serious instance of seasonal affective disorder (SAD) or clinical depression. As entertaining as it is to complain about the January blues, it's still not the same as being diagnosed with a real depressive disorder. (Although, turns out, SAD might not even exist.)

For everyone else, though, complaining about Blue Monday doesn't mean it gets to run your life. So ditch the "woe is me" act and show Monday who's boss with these take-charge feel-better tips instead.

Go work out. Yes, even if you don't want to.

Elle Woods Endorphins

Listen to Elle, you guys. Instead of thinking, "Blue Monday sucks, so it's like a Get Out of Jail Free card for the gym," you need to think, "Guess what, Blue Monday? I'm going to crush this workout and crush this day." After all, working out has a ridiculous number of brain and body benefits, including boosting happy mood chemicals, reducing stress, and alleviating anxiety. (Science says this is why you should exercise even when you're not in the mood.)

And you really have no excuse: This year, Planet Fitness is letting anyone come in for a *free workout* on Monday, January 21st. (You just have to be 18 years old and have a photo ID.)

Go outside, even if it's cold and gross.

dog snow blizzard gif

Find a park. Go for a walk. Stick your face in the snow. Enjoy the warm-ish weather (if you're one of those people who live in a magical, not-cold place). Why? Walking in nature (not in an urban area) has been shown to reduce brain activity in an area associated with depression. Better yet, buck up and do your workout outdoors; it's been linked to decreased stress and increased energy. If it's dangerously cold outside (like, frostbite-level frigid), then go look at a picture of a beach for 10 minutes and play some reggae. Even just looking at a picture of nature has been linked to brain benefits. (More on that here: Science-Backed Reasons Nature Is Good for Your Health)

Go get your Buddha on and meditate.

Patrick Meditating

If your brain is swirling with negative thoughts, the easiest way to get rid of them is to do a quickie sesh of mental cleaning—yep, meditation. Your Blue Monday Grumpy Cat-self might scoff at the idea, but if you give it an honest try, it just might change your day (and life). Just a 15-minute session can lower your heart rate and calm your central nervous system, lowering anxiety, stress, and feelings of loneliness, as well as make you more compassionate (read: not want to kill everyone during your commute home). And that's just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the benefits of meditation. Try this 20-minute guided meditation right now or download one of these great meditation apps.

Go with the flow—yoga flow, that is.

Yoga Headstand Gif

If you already worked out, went outside, and meditated, you're living your best possible life ever. An easy add-in for extra credit? Yoga. Throw some sun salutations into your workout warm-up or cool-down, or flow for a bit post-meditation to take advantage of your clear mind. You already know yoga is good for you—it's even been shown to significantly help depression (hi, winter blues) as well as moderate your reactions to and perceptions of stress. Snowed in or don't feel like schlepping to class? Boom: These YouTube channels have tons of free yoga flows you can do right at home.

Go #treatyoself to some self-love.

treatyoself-selfish-selfcare-gif.gif

In case you didn't know, #SelfCare isn't just laying on the couch with a facemask on. It's the very conscious act of dedicating time and effort to treating yourself to whatever makes you happiest—whether that's a giant coffee on Monday mornings, an expensive-but-worth-it workout date with yourself once a month, an extra five minutes in bed in the morning to just stare at the ceiling and daydream, or a more hands-on self-love approach (if you know what we mean). Pinpoint your favorite indulgence or pick one of these 20 self-care ideas and go ahead—indulge. Blue Monday isn't looking so blue after all.

Go puppy shopping.

Yay Puppies Gif

Well, window shopping. Pups aren't a thing you want to impulse buy—but you can go steal some pats and reap the benefits of having your own pup without dealing with all the responsibility. Seriously—just petting a puppy is linked with decreased blood pressure. Ever tried to not-smile around a puppy? Impossible. Head out to the nearest pet store and kiss your Monday blues goodbye.

Go read some irresistibly inspirational quotes.

Leslie Knope female warrior

Sometimes you need a quick snap back to reality. The best route to insta-enlightenment? A kickass inspirational quote. Try these gems from local trainers, or the mantras that get Olympic athletes up and out of bed in the morning. (Because if it's good enough to get them gold, it's good enough to snap you out of that funk).

Go through @therock's Instagram feed.

The Rock Come At Me

Go ahead and scroll. This guy is a living, breathing motivation machine. Feeling hopeless? He'll forcefully revive you. Thought of an excuse not to act like a human today? He'll negate it. Acting like a victim of Blue Monday rather than a champion? You can bet he'll snap you out of it—and fast. Can you guess what Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson would say to Blue Monday? "COME AT ME."

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