The third Monday in January has been dubbed Blue Monday, supposedly the most depressing day of the year, due to bad weather, the post-Christmas crash and low motivation levels.
So how do we shake it off?
Here are 6 ways hitting the gym can help your mental health and bring some joy back into January.
1. Get Your Blood Pumping
Numerous studies have shown that as little as 10 minutes of cardiovascular exercise a day can have a significant impact on improving your mood.
When we exercise our body releases endorphins which help to boost your mood and increase your energy. Our sleep also improves as we naturally feel more tired after a workout. This allows us to fall asleep more easily, and better sleep leads to better levels of energy during the day. It’s a good cycle to get into!
2. Joyful Movement
If working out feels like too much, but you really want to hit goals. Then you could benefit from exploring the concept of joyful movement. Try asking your body, “What movement would feel good today?”.
The answer will likely change day to day, hour to hour. Some days our body wants a slow, long stretch, other times there’s a lot of adrenaline to be shaken out. We might feel up for the thrill of a challenge one day, and need complete rest another day.
By tuning in to our body we can start to focus on what feels good about exercise, and the more joy we feel from our movement, the more we crave it!
3. Achieving Small Goals
January is often filled with a sense of overwhelm, as we face insurmountable goals, we feel pressured to set ourselves during the year. Accept the fact you probably won’t achieve an entire year’s work in the next month and focus on just achieving the first step towards that goal.
If you haven’t set a big goal to work towards then pick something small and achievable that you can complete within the next few weeks and feel proud of. Maybe try out a class you’ve never been to before, or learn to use a cardio machine you haven’t tried already.
Accomplishing something new is a great way to boost self-esteem fast!
4. Body Positivity
Sometimes new year’s resolutions can come from a place of negativity, and if that’s the case with yours it’s no wonder you feel unmotivated! Shake off the voice saying “lose the Christmas weight” or “get toned by summer” and focus on loving the body you’re in now.
If you use social media, try unfollowing any influencers who make you feel bad about your own body, and search for awesome inspiration from people who are like you. It can make a world of difference to our joy levels seeing accurate representation of people who look like us, doing things we want to be doing.
5. Work Out In A Group
December is a social time for many of us, where we prioritise seeing friends and family, and coming out of that can feel lonely in comparison. Our schedules are filled with work commitments and chores that got postponed in favour of festive parties and it can make finding the time to be social tricky.
Squeeze in that social boost by combining your social life with your workouts! Get a group of friends together for Saturday morning yoga and a coffee afterwards, or get together for regular squash matches at our club nights.
6. See Progress
Don’t expect progress to come overnight. One of the fastest ways we can become demotivated is seeing a plateau or decrease in our work, but it’s totally natural to do worse the day after a huge workout, purely because you’re still tired from the day before!
Give yourself time for those improvements to show up. Once a month is a great time to check in on progress, enough time to see a difference, without having to wait TOO long to get that boost.
Try picking one or two metrics, such as the number of push-ups you can do, or how long it takes you to run a mile. Test where you’re at with them today and make a note, then keep that metric in mind throughout January, then on the 31st test yourself again and see how much you have improved!
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