Monday 17 January is Blue Monday, AKA the Monday alleged to be the most depressing day of the year.
We now know that the day is pseudoscience, and started life as a PR stunt for travel firms looking to sell holidays.
But there is no denying that the combination of factors identified by Blue Monday founder, psychologist Cliff Arnal, (winter weather, post-Christmas debt and broken New Year's resolutions) can make things feel a little more difficult.
Now, people are once again working from home and self-isolating due to the continued spread of the new Omicron variant of Covid-19. Combined with the constant stream of bad news - both in the UK and around the world - it’s easy to feel overwhelmed by the January blues.
With that in mind, here are some things to brighten your Blue Monday, from new travel opportunities to Britain’s longest-married couple revealing their secret to a long-lasting relationship.
Plan this year’s staycation in the best hotels opening this year
Travel restrictions may have forced people to stay put, but they also resulted in a newfound love for staycations as Britons rediscovered the UK’s holiday potential.
According to Simply Business, Google searches for “staycation UK” increased by 173 per cent between June 2020 and June 2021 and the trend shows no sign of slowing down in 2022.
So if you’re in the midst of planning your annual leave this year (and if you plan just right, you could get 45 days off using only 18 days of annual leave), there are a whole host of exciting hotels about to open across the UK and Ireland that will be ready to welcome you.
Find the best hotels opening this year thanks to our travel experts here.
Show off your baking chops for the Queen
The Queen’s Platinum Jubilee is set to be the event of the year, and she wants your best dessert recipes to help celebrate.
Buckingham Palace has called on avid bakers to whip up a dessert fit for Her Majesty and submit their recipes to the Platinum Pudding competition.
The winning dessert, which will be chosen by Dame Mary Berry, Masterchef’s Monica Galetti and royal head chef Mark Flanagan, will serve as a long-lasting reminder of the monarch’s 70-year reign.
Flanagan advises entrants to keep their recipes simple and focus on “subtle and elegant rather than fussy and over complicated”, with flavours that “sing”.
If you’re feeling the January blues, baking can be a rewarding and tasty way to boost your mental health and give yourself a goal-oriented, creative activity that helps you stay present.
We’ve got everything you need to know about how to apply for the Queen’s Jubilee baking competition here.
The days are getting longer
The sun is now rising before 8am and, less than three weeks from now, it will begin setting after 5pm.
It won't be long before we’re taking walks in the sunshine after work, and being woken up by sunlight creeping through our curtains.
The UK’s longest-married couple have celebrated their 81st wedding anniversary
Ron and Joyce Bond, aged 102 and 100 respectively, have claimed the title of the UK’s longest-married couple after celebrating their 81st wedding anniversary on 4 January.
The couple, from Milton Keynes, marked the special occasion with a cream tea in their flat at ExtraCare’s Shenley Wood Retirement Village.
Joyce said: “We never expected to reach 81 years of marriage, we know we are very fortunate to have achieved this amazing goal.”
She added that their key to a lasting marriage is that “there is no boss in our relationship, we both give and take”.
Ron added: “Sometimes life is hard but we work through it together. We look after each other too.”
This 69p ‘Night Time’ tea from Aldi might give you the ‘best night’s sleep’ ever
If not getting enough sleep is contributing to your Blue Monday, this Aldi customer has credited the supermarket’s “Diplomat Night Time” tea with giving her one of the best night’s sleep she’s had in a long time.
Shopper Lindsay told a private Aldi UK shoppers group on Facebook that she wanted to try the tea to see if it would help her fall asleep, and it worked a treat.
“Best night’s sleep I’ve had in ages after this sleep tea,” she wrote.
But don’t just take Lindsay’s word for it – other shoppers also praised the tea and claimed it helped with anxiety during the day as well.
One person wrote: “I’ve been taking the sleep one since two days ago and honestly it works better than sleeping pills and also works on my anxiety levels so I drink a cup here and there during the day… and the taste is lovely too!!”
Munroe Bergdorf makes history as the first trans woman on cover of Cosmopolitan UK
British activist and model Munroe Bergdorf made history when she announced that she is the first transgender woman to appear on the cover of Cosmopolitan UK last week.
Posting about the news on her Instagram, Bergdorf said she was “BEYOND excited to share that I am @cosmopolitanUK’s covergirl for their 50th Anniversary Issue”.
She will appear on the magazine’s February/March edition, which goes on sale on 21 January.
In the issue, Bergdorf offers advice to people who are questioning their gender: “The best advice I have is there’s no one way to be trans. Gravitate towards what you feel, rather than what you feel you should do. You’ll find so much peace that way.”
There’s an easy way to mix up your daily walk in London
Sick of doing laps around your local park while working from home? An unofficial tube map for walkers could help you find a change of scenery for your daily exercise.
London #GreengroundMap version 4 with distances between parks 🌳🌳🚶♀️1.2 miles🚴🌳🌳
I've also sketched in some loops ♾
Link to blog post and PDFhttps://t.co/LO0Qmlb1mR@LondonNPC @museumofwalking pic.twitter.com/ujONwGgxvv
— Helen Ilus (@HelenIlus) January 29, 2020
Instead of tube stations, the Greenground Map provides distances between outdoor spaces like forests, parks and cemeteries in the capital.
Graphic designer Helen Ilus created the map to encourage more people to travel by foot in London. So, next time you’re struggling to motivate yourself to leave the house, why not check out a green space you haven’t visited before?