Last week, as you might have noticed, there was a day designated by the media as “Blue Monday”. 

Is this helpful to us all? I’m not sure. But it certainly gives people like me something to write about! 

However, my feeling is that during the dark and damp days of January it’s all too easy to talk ourselves into feeling low.

And I would like to suggest instead that we do everything we can to propel ourselves into a cheerier frame of mind. 

I don’t suggest for a second that you can do this if you’re suffering from clinical depression. 

But most low mood at this time of year comes about because we hate how our activities are curtailed as a result of dismal weather. 

Also, we often experience considerable anti-climax once the Christmas festivities are over. But I do believe we can rise above all this. How? Well, a good way, is to focus your mind on things that reliably act as a tonic on your mood. 

What works for me, for example, is to witness individuals triumphing in something they’ve put a lot of effort into. 

It’s magical to see great results when folk have followed their dream and worked hard to make it come true. This happens all the time in sport and I’m sure many readers feel uplifted by watching an athlete or a whole team do brilliantly. 

I’m certainly guaranteed a boost to my mood if I attend a great performance of music, theatre or dance. 

The weekend prior to “Blue Monday”, I had a wonderful chance to witness people of all ages excelling at activities they loved. 

On the Saturday morning, I was lucky to be invited to see the dress rehearsal of Sleeping Beauty at the Royal Opera House, which is just about my favourite place on the planet. 

To watch dancers – after years of training, enduring injuries, exhaustion and disappointments – at the top of their game makes me hugely glad to be alive. 

That night I was back in the Opera House because I’d booked to take my stepson and partner to the last night of The Nutcracker. 

There are masses of children in that production and their energetic contribution to it brought tears to my eyes. 

Even the small ones will have been training for several years and their parents will have been driving them to classes and  somehow – and often it’s a real struggle – raising the necessary cash for their talented offspring to pursue their goals. 

The stage was alive with joy and excitement and a feeling of real accomplishment. I’m sure that many of the artists had never performed better. 

Then on Sunday, back in Norwich, I went to the Norfolk Young Musician Competition at the John Innes Conference Centre where I saw over a dozen teenagers competing. The standard was high, and I got a real sense of how these students had worked their socks off and how it was paying off. The whole day was wonderfully inspiring and heart-warming.   

On “Blue Monday” itself, I went to a routine hospital appointment. And that reminded  me of how we all depend on other people who have trained hard, and devoted years of massive effort to qualify for medical careers – whether they are nurses, doctors, physios, radiographers or some other type of health worker. 

Again, I felt my spirits elevated by all they had achieved, and how it helps the rest of us. And it’s not just medicine, obviously. We depend on so many other men and women who have worked hard to forge a future in their chosen areas – areas that enable us to have better lives.  

When you think of it, accomplishing our desires and achieving long-held aims are an essential part of what it means to be human. 

And it’s good to reflect on this. But don’t just concentrate on the triumphs of others, do also take time to appreciate your own. 

Cast your mind back to when you were a child. I bet, like me, there were times when you didn’t think you would amount to anything. 

Perhaps you were being bullied, or you were sad because your parents were splitting up, or you had really bad skin, or you were lonely because you’d changed schools and were finding it hard to make friends. 

When you recall those days, and then assess the person you have become, you should be proud. Why not make a list of your achievements over the years, and keep adding to it? 

Put down everything – the children you’ve given life to, the qualifications you’ve gained, the relationships you’ve had, the friendships you’ve nourished, passing your driving test, stuff you’re still learning…everything that occurs to you. 

Focusing on all you’ve worked hard to achieve can raise your mood, even in darkest January. 

You’re amazing. And I’m sure lots of other people think so too. Just remember that.