Blue Monday Winter Wellness Hacks from Brunelcare

Blue Monday is the name given to the most depressing day of the year based on a formula created by Psychologist Dr Cliff Arnall. The formula is calculated using days since Christmas, the weather and motivation among others to work out the worst day of the year.

The NHS has released guidelines on how to stay well this winter. Some tips include, not running a house that’s below 18 degrees, having at least one hot meal a day and having access to blankets and hot waters. Physically, the colder months can be tough on the elderly generation but what about mental wellbeing this winter for people of all ages not just on Blue Monday?

At Brunelcare, it’s Karolina’s job to look after and care for the older generation, but she’s also passionate about looking after the mental wellbeing of her colleagues. She wanted to share her top tips for mental wellbeing this Blue Monday:

  1. Get exercising – Exercising is one of the most important things you can do to combat stress and increase your wellbeing this winter. It’s said that people who exercise regularly are less likely to experience anxiety than those who don’t. If you find it difficult to exercise try going for a short walk outside or even doing some stretching in your chair.
  1. Consider natural supplements – Natural supplements such as lemon balm, a member of the mint family has been studied for its anti-anxiety effects. This small plant that can be grown at home or purchased at a garden centre can be made into a tea using it’s leaves to relieve anxiety and also warm you up this winter. Omega-3 fatty acids is also an excellent supplement to take, alongside green tea, valerian and kava kava.
  1. Light a candle – Using essential oils or burning scented candles may help reduce your feelings of stress and anxiety this winter. The most soothing and calming scents are said to be lavender, rose, vetiver and bergamot.
  1. Reduce your caffeine intake – Caffeine is a stimulant found in coffee, tea, chocolate and energy drinks. High doses of caffeine can cause anxiety and stop you sleeping. Try green tea or lemon balm tea in its place.
  1. Write it down – One way to handle stress and anxiety this winter is to write it down. While recording what your stressed about is one approach, another is jotting down what your grateful for. Gratitude may help relieve stress and anxiety by focusing your thoughts on what’s positive in your life.
  1. Spend time with family and friends this winter – Social support from friends and family can help you get through stressful times. Being a part of a friend network gives you a sense of belonging and self-worth which can help you through tough times. One study found, that for women in particular, spending time with friends and children helps release Oxytocin a natural stress reliever. The effect is called ‘tend-and-befriend,’ and is this opposite to flight-or-fight response.
  1. Listen to soothing music – Listening to music can have a very relaxing effect on the body. Slow-paced instrumental music can induce the relaxation responses by helping lower blood pressure, heart rate and stress hormones.
  1. Spend time with your pet – Having a pet may help reduce stress and improve your mood. Interacting with pets may help release Oxytocin, a brain chemical that promotes a positive mood. Having a pet also gives you purpose, keeping you active and providing companionship.

Karolina said: “Today is Blue Monday, the most depressing day of the year – but, it doesn’t have to be! At Brunelcare we run mindfulness sessions not just for the people in our care but also for our employees, my colleagues. The sessions have been extremely beneficial and in some cases, practising mindfulness has helped reduce the medication of some of our residents. We continue to practice mindfulness with the people in our care to reduce their stress and anxiety and also follow the above tips across Brunelcare.” 

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