Today we find ourselves at Blue Monday. Firstly, I'd like to say that this is a load of old nonsense. It is calculated using a series of factors in a (not particularly scientific) mathematical formula. The factors are: the weather, debt level (specifically, the difference between debt and our ability to pay), the amount of time since Christmas, time since failing our new year's resolutions, low motivational levels and the feeling of a need to take charge of the situation. Mental health charity Mind is derisive of the notion of Blue Monday, claiming the concept has no foundation in scientific research.It was originally conceived by a PR company but has now become an annual event. A statement on their websites says: "Here at Mind, we think it’s dangerously misleading. "Those of us who live with depression know that those feelings aren’t dictated by the date. "Implying that they are perpetuates the myth that depression is just 'feeling a bit down', something that doesn’t need to be taken seriously." Multiple branches of the Samaritans charity across the UK are aiming to turn 'Blue Monday' into 'Brew Monday' and will be offering a brew and a chat at events across the country, the Samaritans helpline is free to call every day of the year. However, as it is all over the news, I thought this was a good opportunity to talk about how exercise can have a wonderful effect over your mental health, particularly if you suffer from depression or anxiety. When you have depression or anxiety, exercise often seems like the last thing you want to do. But once you get motivated, exercise can make a big difference. Exercise helps prevent and improve a number of health problems, including high blood pressure, diabetes and arthritis. Research on depression, anxiety and exercise shows that the psychological and physical benefits of exercise can also help improve mood and reduce anxiety. The links between depression, anxiety and exercise aren't entirely clear — but working out and other forms of physical activity can definitely ease symptoms of depression or anxiety and make you feel better. Exercise may also help keep depression and anxiety from coming back once you're feeling better. How does exercise help depression and anxiety? Regular exercise may help ease depression and anxiety by:
Releasing feel-good endorphins, natural cannabis-like brain chemicals (endogenous cannabinoids) and other natural brain chemicals that can enhance your sense of well-being
Taking your mind off worries so you can get away from the cycle of negative thoughts that feed depression and anxiety
Gain confidence. Meeting exercise goals or challenges, even small ones, can boost your self-confidence. Getting in shape can also make you feel better about your appearance.
Get more social interaction. Exercise and physical activity may give you the chance to meet or socialize with others. Just exchanging a friendly smile or greeting as you walk around your neighborhood can help your mood.
Cope in a healthy way. Doing something positive to manage depression or anxiety is a healthy coping strategy. Trying to feel better by drinking alcohol, dwelling on how you feel, or hoping depression or anxiety will go away on its own can lead to worsening symptoms.
Physical activity is any activity that works your muscles and requires energy and can include work or household or leisure activities.
Exercise is a planned, structured and repetitive body movement done to improve or maintain physical fitness.