January is a miserable month. It’s dark, it’s cold, your bank account is feeling the after-effects of Christmas, you’ve got to go back to work, and chances are that you probably began the month with a major hangover. Yuck.
Many people really struggle with the January Blues. The darkness and cold weather can bring on symptoms for those who suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder - but even those who aren’t so affected by the season can have a hard time during January. With Christmas over, the majority of us must face down two months of slogging away at work, with nothing to look forward to, while the weather outside remains horrid. Basically, January is like a Monday morning that lasts for an entire month.
If you’re suffering during this tough time of year, here are some tricks which may help you to shake your case of the Januaries.
When you can, get outside
The lack of natural light during January is a major contributor to mood disturbances. Natural light triggers our brains to release serotonin - a chemical which is associated with positive mood. During this dark time of year it can be hard to get the amount of daylight your brain needs, especially if you work indoors. Take the opportunity when you can to grab yourself a breath of fresh air during the hours of daylight. Fingers crossed we will have at least some rain-free days!
Plan something fun
November and December, like January, are also dark and miserable months. But many of us find January harder than these. The anticipation of the upcoming Christmas festivities helps us to power our way through Nov and Dec. January arrives with nothing to look forward to. So why not help yourself out by planning something fun for the near future? A holiday, a meal out, maybe even a cosy night in with a bottle of wine. Whatever will give you that much-needed boost when you think about it.
Have realistic expectations
1st January often brings with it a lot of anticipation about what the New Year has in store for us. We expect great things both of the fresh new year and of ourselves. However, the world doesn’t magically shift gear between the 31st December and the 1st January. We wake up the same old people we were the year before (only perhaps with a hangover), and very little changes in the world. Before long, we find ourselves breaking our NY resolutions and settling back into the same old patterns. This can all be pretty disappointing if you’ve pinned your hopes on wonderful changes in the weeks to come. So, don’t go overboard with your resolutions and hopes for 2020. Set realistic expectations, and then be pleased when they are achieved (or even surpassed!).
We all know that healthy habits lead to healthy minds. Eat a balanced diet, exercise when you can, sleep well, stay hydrated… It all helps!
Self-care is different for everyone, so we can’t tell you what it entails (although our article on the subject might give you some ideas!) But learning to recognise when you need a break, and learning the kinds of things which will rejuvinate you (as well as those which will drain you) are well worth doing this January. Self-care is not selfish. It’s a very important part of maintaining your mental, physical, and emotional health.
Get help if necessary
If the January Blues are having a serious impact on your wellbeing, it is a good idea to seek help. Mental health is extremely important, and there is absolutely no need to suffer when help is available. Go and see your GP or a licenced counsellor to talk through your symptoms and your treatment options. Never suffer in silence.