After the hustle and bustle of the Christmas and festive period, it is commonplace for people to be left feeling a little drained come the New Year. Whilst the New Year can bring with it much excitement, as we often decide to take the opportunity to set new goals for ourselves and the year ahead, January is quite often a tough time for some. In fact, in recent years, the third Monday of January has been labelled as “Blue Monday”, notoriously thought to be the most depressing day of the year. In the northern hemisphere, this concept draws its context from the dark winter days, the post-Christmas come down and the overarching feeling that the summer will never arrive. January is often a time of loneliness for people, with many retreating inside their homes, to stave off the cold and resist the temptations of the outside world that may cause them to break newly made resolutions. January is also notorious for Seasonal Affective Disorder, appropriately abbreviated to SAD, which is a type of depression known as “winter depression” that comes and goes seasonally. As many as 2 million people in the UK are said to suffer from SAD, with approximately 12 million people across Northern Europe being affected every year.

A person is seen in sharp focus holding an umbrella and wearing a jacket as rain can be seen on the streets and umbrella, with the background being blurred and full of lights from car headlights and street lights.
The weather can have a profound impact on our feelings and general mood on a daily basis, particularly when coupled with the pressures of life, including working, commuting, family and social commitments etc.

Brew Monday and the Power of a Cuppa

The wonders that can be done by a cup of tea and a chat have been explored in many healthcare and social settings. A group of patients at Leighton Hospital in Crewe showed increased levels of mental positivity with the introduction of a “tea and chat” session twice weekly. A study has also shown that over 85s who drink five cups of tea a day experience increased focus and prolonged attention span (for the all important chatting). In Ireland, if you visit a household and refuse a cup of tea, you are sure to get one anyway. Culturally, the Irish see tea as a conversation starter, giving people a chance to sit and share with one another.

While our daily lives are no longer being held back by COVID, Brew Monday lives on! On January 15th 2024, Samaritans are encouraging people to reach out to those they hold dearly to catch-up over a cuppa. The most important thing that you can do this Brew Monday is to listen. Sometimes something as seemingly insignificant as listening to somebody talk can have a big impact on their mental health and wellbeing.

Tips for living with Seasonal Affective Disorder(SAD) and improving your Mental Health

With the COVID Pandemic now behind us, our rediscovered mobility and ability to interact with others is an important tool in our arsenal for combating SAD. There are many small actions we can take that can have a big positive impact on our mental health and general mood. These include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Keeping active: Even a brisk walk outdoors can help to significantly boost your mood and offers an opportunity to take a break and relax in nature.
  • Eating healthily: A balanced, healthy diet helps to improve your mood, boost your energy levels and prevent weight gain. Physical health issues have been shown to increase the likelihood of suffering from mental health issues, so living in a healthy body can be a massive boost for your mental health too. 
  • Seeing friends and family: Socialising with other people is an important element of our lives that we should cherish now more than ever following years of lockdown and isolation. If you feel comfortable sharing your feelings and thoughts with those close to you, it can offer you an opportunity to get something off of your chest if you feel like you need to do so.
  • Taking up a new hobby: Having an activity to dedicate your time and thoughts towards can be an effective means of avoiding the harmful thoughts that can often creep into one’s head when suffering from SAD. A new hobby can be anything that you like, and even if you don’t love something new that you try, you can always have a go at something else instead, until you find something that you enjoy and are passionate about.
A white football with red, black and yellow accents is seen sitting in the semi-circle of the corner spot. The pitch is green in colour with white lines denoting the playing area.
Keeping active has been shown to have both great physical and mental health benefits, and it is an important means by which people can help themselves to combat Seasonal Affective Disorder.

Managing Mental Health with iplanit

At Aspirico, our care management and planning software, iplanit, is focused on enabling Social Care Providers to help the people that they support to achieve person centred outcomes, but iplanit also tracks simple day to day achievements like making cups of tea. However, we know it’s not just a cup of tea, it’s a daily ritual, a conversation starter, a winter comfort, and a symbol of normality. Share a connection with others this Brew Monday and banish those winter blues!

To learn more about how iplanit can help to support the people that you support and their mental health, request a demo using the form below – or send us an email –