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Hello lovely people!
It is officially the second week of January and according to the internet, Monday 13 January was officially the most depressing day of the year (boo). In fact, the second Monday of the New Year is officially known as “Blue Monday”. Yep, Blue Monday is a thing. That’s why in this blog post we wanted to share with you some easy and sure-fire ways to shake off those January Blues and increase your happiness levels (and no they do not involve eating our delicious plant based ice cream – although that should be one of them) – we want to be as insightful and helpful as possible to you lovely people.
What is Blue Monday
Blue Monday is the name given to a day in January (typically the first Monday of the month – although in 2020 it is actually the second Monday of the month) claimed to be the most depressing day of the year. The concept was first coined in a 2005 press release from holiday company Sky Travel (go figure) which claimed to have calculated the date using equations. Basically, the whole thing is a pseudoscience – essentially not scientifically determined at all. That said it did get us thinking – what are some sneaky shortcuts we could use in everyday life to help us beat off those times we start to feel blue and increase those happiness levels. Because let’s face it – we all want to be happier.
It’s all about Science
The reality is our moods are very much chemical. Mostly how we feel and act are determined by a small number of chemicals in our brains: Oxytocin, Serotonin, Cortisol and Dopamine (to name the main culprits).
Oxytocin: the love feeling. It makes people feel good and is released when we feel secure and connected.
Serotonin: the feeling of calm. It makes us feel comforted.
Cortisol: the feeling of stress. It makes us engage in our fight or flight response.
Dopamine: the feeling of pleasure. Rewards us for behaviors we enjoy.
Believe it or not, there are some ways of controlling how much our bodies produce these hormones. By using little tricks we can help influence the impact these chemicals have on us.
3 Ways To Increase Happiness
1. Positively reminiscing
One-way Serotonin is released is by positively reminiscing (i.e. thinking about positive memories). Simply reflect on your past focusing on those achievements, goals or events that made you happy. Boom – instant Serotonin boost. Look through old photos or have a specific memory to hand and a photo you carry with you to remind you of those events. Use it when you are feeling down.
2. Reward yourself more often
Reward yourself daily for the completion of small tasks. Dopamine is released when we feel pleasure, get a reward or receive gifts. So, to get a Dopamine hit make sure you are constantly rewarding yourself for every and any little task or objective you complete. The reward does not have to be large or extravagant – it could be merely something like a cup of coffee you have been waiting to have or to watch a film if you complete a task.
3. Embrace Hugging
Oxytocin is produced by the people around us. The moment you start to feel in a bad mood find someone, anyone (preferably someone you know and love) to hug. Hugging can help increase that warm and fuzzy feeling which helps produce Oxytocin. Hugging your spouse or partner on a regular basis can also help to increase Oxytocin and your relationship. Hugging – who knew. If you are not a hugger maybe it is time to change.
It all about Chemicals
Semi-Sonic were on to something when they sang the song “Chemicals” because the reality is it is all about chemicals. Even if we don’t feel like it is, how we act, feel and interact with others can be controlled if we learn to understand and control how our brains work. The next time you start to feel down reward yourself, reminisce and go hug someone you care about. Sometimes it is the small things that can make a difference (that and eating some plant based vegan ice cream…obviously).