Initial position for calf stretch.

From Blue Monday to happy feet!

By Jaconel Janssen

Typically falling on the third Monday in January, Blue Monday is reputedly the most depressing day of the year.

Apparently, the idea of Blue Monday started as a clever marketing idea from a travel agent, to spur people on to start booking their summer holidays. Still, a dark drizzly Monday in the middle of January might not feel like the greatest day of the year.

Thankfully Blue Monday was last Monday, and hopefully things will get better and brighter from here on in. Exercise releases endorphins, our 'feel good' hormones. Regular exercise has been proven to reduce stress, ward off anxiety and feelings of depression, boost self-esteem and improve sleep.

If you are feeling a little blue, try moving your body to lift the spirits. Move to a tune on the radio, join a class, start the day with a walk in the fresh air and a stretch. If you need more help or ideas in looking after your mental health, there are many resources available from the HSE, see including advice on minding your mental health during Covid.

For a quick feel-good boost and a great way to increase your foot strength and mobility, here are two things you can do right now to make your feet a little happier.

Spread your toes, preferably when barefoot, so your toes can really find some space. Try to move each toe away from each other, or think of moving the little toe away from the big toe, and feel the stretch between all toes. Then give them a little wiggle. Be gentle with this movement.

At first your toes might not go very far, as you might not have moved your toes for a very long time! But stay with it, and you will start to notice small changes. Each foot has some 33 joints, so there is plenty of scope for movement!

Do a calf stretch, and do this often. As always, start slowly and gently, and with good posture, and let the breath flow in and out. For this stretch, you need a towel.

Stand near a wall or chair in case you need support for your balance. Roll up the towel, maybe just a little bit at first. A stretch should never hurt, just a mild tension. With your feet side by side and facing forward, place the towel under the front of one foot, heel stays on the floor. Try and keep the legs straight, knees facing forward, your body stacked over the stretching leg. Hold it for 30 seconds to a minute, or longer, then repeat on the other side.

Get in touch if you’d like to do a full session for happy feet, a series of exercises and stretches to benefit not just your feet but also your hips and rest of the body!

Jaconel Janssen is a Pilates and Buff Bones teacher and founder of Pilates People Cork. She teaches regular movement classes in Cork (Douglas area), both in person and online, and a regular outdoor class. For more on classes or one-to-one sessions, visit or Facebook Pilates People Cork or contact or 085-1613505.