This week started with “Blue Monday”. Blue Monday – January 16th. It’s known as the most depressing day of the year. It is when the post-holiday blues set in, when New Year’s resolutions have typically failed, and when the weather is at its worst. But it doesn’t have to be all doom and gloom, there are things you can do to lighten your mood and environment. I’ll share my top tips and a great recipe with you to liven the senses!
Historically, the term ‘Blue Monday’ was coined by psychologist, Cliff Arnall, who formulated an equation to describe the most depressing day of the year. This was used by a UK travel company to convince consumers it was the perfect time to book a holiday/vacation.
I can certainly suffer with depression in winter months. Often what I am suffering with is Seasonal Affective Disorder. A condition described as: a disorder which often starts in the fall and may continue into the winter months. Its symptoms include fatigue, depression, hopelessness, and social withdrawal.
Phrases like Blue Monday can be particularly unhelpful to a depressed state of mind, or someone suffering with Seasonal Affective Disorder. In January, I can lack hope. I sometimes sense that there is nothing to look forward to and I just want to be wrapped up warm indoors. The weather is bleak, cold and icy. My environment lacks the warmth of the holidays and I feel the loss of friendly faces, re-uniting each year for celebration. The decorations have been removed and we brace the starkness until spring.
But there is hope, it doesn’t have to be a depressing time. I believe that depression is both a physical and mental illness, and can be positively affected by our environment. Here are some of the things I do to lighten my mood:
- Buy fresh flowers. They give me a sense of spring and brighten my home environment.
- Eat colorful food (see recipe for summer rolls, below), which lighten my senses and I don’t feel quite so bleak.
- Have a good “clean out’. I take this time of year as good opportunity to clean my home, remove clutter and freshen up.
- Create a warming and comfortable environment by adding soft furnishings: textured cushions, soft throws, candles and rugs.
- Take long restorative soaks in candle lit baths, which calm my mind and anxiety. Try using Epsom salts, and an essential oil like lavender or juniper.
- Build a vision board for the year. This includes 3 SMART goals (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, Time-driven), inspiring pictures, affirmations, a lovely picture that inspires me, a favorite poem. I keep this at my desk and review it each morning as I journal.
- Curl up on the sofa, with a big throw and read an inspiring book.
It’s nature’s way of saying…
I find that this time of year is nature’s way of saying, “Relax and restore your body and soul.” The holidays can be so hectic. Our time is stretched and demands are heavy. Usually our immune systems have taken a hit and our bodies are tired. Why not enjoy a lighter workload? The pressure has eased! Take time for you, rest up, you deserve it!
Recipe for Summer Rolls
4 (8 1/2-inch) rice paper wrappers
1 cup of cooked shrimp
a small seedless cucumber, julienned
1 small carrot, peeled and julienned
a medium scallion, thinly sliced
1 cup thinly shredded red cabbage
Nori sheets (optional)
1 small packed of rice or buckwheat noodles (these come in bundles, 1 bundle is sufficient)
2 tbsp roasted salted peanuts
1 tbsp chopped cilantro leaves
2 tbsp mint leaves
For the dressing
½ lime, squeezed
2 tbsp wholenut peanut butter
1 tbsp sesame oil
a tsp sriracha or chilli bean paste
1 tsp raw honey
- Shred and julienne the vegetables and set aside.
- Cook the noodles per the packet instructions, then drain and rinse in cold water.
- Whilst the noodles cook, make the dressing, combining the ingredients in a bowl and stirring together until a paste is formed.
- To soften the rice paper, half-fill a shallow dish (a pie dish is perfect) with room-temperature water. Immerse 1 wrapper in the water until it softens, about 30 seconds. Use both hands to pull it up out of the water, being careful so it doesn’t collapse on itself, and immediately lay it flat on a clean surface – a plate is perfect. NB: It is helpful to wet the plate lightly, to make the wrapper easier to handle.
- To assemble the wraps, add 2/3 mint and cilantro leaves slightly to the center of left, then place the shrimp on top, then a tsp of dressing, then noodles and vegetables last.
- Roll up the summer roll by folding the top and bottom of the wrapper over the filling. Fold the left side over the shrimp and continue rolling tightly to the right until it’s closed and snug. Place it on a wet plate seam-side down and repeat for the remaining rolls.
- To serve, cut each roll in half crosswise and serve with the remaining sauce.