Feature: Help is at hand to blow away the winter blues

Manager of Fitness first Paul Lennon spars with studio and front of house manager Vikki Cubitt.

Manager of Fitness first Paul Lennon spars with studio and front of house manager Vikki Cubitt. - Credit: Archant

Let’s face it, January is depressing. The weather is cold, it’s snowing, there is less daylight than we would like and Chrismas is a distant memory.

Blue Monday, which falls on the third week of January, is now officially known as the most depressing day of the year.

It comes as people, weighed down by Christmas debts, start to lose the battle with New Year resolutions.

We spoke to local service providers about what they offer to help anyone suffering from the January blues.

Personal trainer Paul Lennon, manager at Fitness First in Romford, recommends starting a new exercise regime.

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He said: “Exercise helps the brain to release the happy drug. Starting exercise can be daunting, especially getting the motivation to do it, but if you buddy up with someone this can help.

“But it doesn’t matter if you exercise in the gym, outside or in your home, the main factor is reaching your end goal, and this can make you feel better.

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“Exercise has obvious physiological benefits and neurological ones too as it releases endorphins.”

He added that joining a class to get advice on eating healthily and what to eat to boost your energy can help.

As well as getting more natural light, the NHS website suggests winter blues can be eased with a good diet and exercise regime.

It says: “Winter blues can make you crave sugary foods and carbohydrates such as chocolate, pasta and bread, but don’t forget to include plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables in your diet.”

Paul, who is a qualified nutritionist, added: “Make sure you have a balanced diet with meat, vegetables and plenty of water.

“You can boost your energy and your mood by making your own smoothies with blueberries, blackberries, strawberries, frozen yoghurt and kiwis.

“Increase your intake of fish oil, pumpkin seeds and nuts like Brazil nuts. Some chocolate is good as an antioxidant in small amounts, especially dark chocolate.”

For those with debt worries, national initiative Christians Against Poverty offers advice. It is based in the Havering Grange Centre, in Romford.

The Rev Barry Hobson, from St Andrew’s Church, Hornchurch, who has referred members of his congregation to the service, said: “Those who apply are listened to and helped in a specific way.

“Their bill worries and concerns are listened to and the volunteers take the weight off them.

“It is a way forward, and can show the light at the end of the tunnel.”

He added: “We had one person who had lost their job and was about to be evicted from their house.

“We helped them, and they have now paid off their debts and have a flat.”

St Andrew’s Church runs courses on how to manage money and there are volunteers available to talk to during working hours from Monday to Friday.

n Anyone finding things hard and wants someone to talk to can contact Havering Samaritans on 01708 740000 or email jo@samaritans.org.

n The North East London NHS Foundation Trust runs a 24-hour mental health crisis support telephone service called NELFT Mental Health Direct, it is available on 0300 555 1000.

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