How can you combat the most depressing day of the year?

Blue Monday as we come to know it, was first invented as a promotional stunt by a UK travel company to entice people to book holiday trips to escape the cold winter, enlisting the help of psychologist Cliff Arnall to lend some scientific air to it.

Dr. Arnall made a series of calculations using a formula based on a combination of debt, weather, broken New Year resolutions and motivation levels, to reach the conclusion that the third Monday of January is the most depressing day of the year.

Whatever its origins, it became a self-fulfilling prophecy as the term Blue Monday is picked up and widely circulated in the news and social mediums.

Whether or not you believe in it being the most depressing day of the year, there’s no harm in perking up your Monday, or any other day, with these simple and natural feel-good solutions.

If it’s a sunny day, a short bask in the sun while you take a break or have a sandwich would promote vitamin D production to keep you healthy. Natural light stabilizes serotonin and triggers endorphin production, both mood-boosting hormones to juice up your day.

If you’re feeling tired and down, contrary to what you might believe, exercising can give you more energy, both physically and neurologically. When you exercise, your heart pressure increases and your brain recognizes this as a moment of stress, thereby releasing a protein known as Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor (BDNF) to protect itself from stress and repair your memory neurons, clearing up your mind. It also releases endorphins which serves to block pain and provide a sense of euphoria.

Give your friends and family a hug! Communication and support from friends and loved ones strengthens your emotional health, while hugging relaxes your muscles and reduces the stress hormone levels in your body, at the same time causes your brain to release endorphins, serotonin and dopamine to trigger feelings of happiness and joy, as well as raises oxytocin levels to increase empathy that helps create bonds and improve social interactions.

There is evidence to suggest that our emotions are reinforced by our facial expressions. Smiling at someone, even a random stranger, would most likely earn you a smile back. So keep smiling, and soon you will find your mood improving, while at the same time helping others improve their moods, converting your Blue Monday into a Happy Monday.