If you’re in the Northern Hemisphere, January is widely regarded to be least good month of the year. And Blue Monday is said be the least good day of this least good month. The joy of the holidays is behind us, it’s often a five-week pay period and the skies are a wash of the greyest grey known to humankind. But fear not! We’re not going to let it defeat us and we’re certainly not going to let it defeat you.
Mental health is important to us at TOPMAN and while challenges like anxiety and depression are on the rise – especially among young men – the conversation around those experiences and how to cope is rising with it.
An open dialogue is key to easing the burden that one might feel in any area of life; romance, work, school, family, or, maybe, for no real reason at all. As the old saying goes, a problem shared is a problem halved. Talking about the issues we face in life isn’t always easy and sometimes you might feel as though there isn’t anyone around who you can have this conversation with. But, there really is. The NHS says that one in four young people will experience anxiety or depression before the age of 19 (in varying degrees of severity) so chances are, if you’re feeling glum, someone you know is too.
TOPMAN charity partner CALM has a chatline and a webchat open from 5pm – 12am every day of the year. These avenues are for anyone feeling down or like they’ve hit a wall. It can often be helpful to chat to a stranger, as an anonymous person, and learn from the small but significant ways you can make positive changes to your mood, or where else to seek support if they think that it would be of use to you.
CALM’s helpline number is: 0800 58 58 58
Crisis volunteers at SHOUT are on call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to offer immediate support to the anxious and worried among us. It’s a free service (on all major networks) and they pride themselves on taking people ‘from crisis to calm’ every day. Just text SHOUT to 85258 any time – day or night – and someone will be on the other end of the phone to work it out with you. As a bonus, they use the anonymous data they gather from conversations like this to gain insight into mental health before using those learnings to improve both their service and the overall approach to improving mental health.
It’s a cliche but the endorphins released into the body from physical exercise lift the mood, and it doesn’t need to require a lot of effort. If you’re not a gym member or just can’t be bothered, try getting off the tube of bus a few stops early on Monday to include some light exercise into your commute. If you can make the time to go to a class, try find your local yoga studio and do a gentle Vinyasa to get the blood moving, steady your breath, and engage in some easy but effective meditation all at once. You can also find a lot of videos on YouTube if you’re not up for leaving the house.
Any time you can spend outside, getting some fresh air, balances the mind and gives your brain a little break. Walk to the corner shop, go for a light jog, cycle to the supermarket for your weekly shop. Research shows that increased oxygen levels in the body boost serotonin (the happy chemical) and if you can literally smell the roses, that’s even better. Walk home through the park if it isn’t too dark.
Two words: Puppy. Therapy. On Monday across London, The Cuddle Club will be lining up in offices, open spaces, parks, retail stores and commuter hot spots giving the public access to some much-needed dog hugs. According to research, petting a dog for 10 minutes reduces cortisol, the stress hormone, even among those who had very high levels to begin with. Further research revealed that 15 minutes of dog petting actually boosted the feel-good hormones, serotonin, prolatin and oxytocin and can even lower blood pressure by 10%. If you’re not lucky enough to have a pooch at home, keep an eye out for one on your walk around town.