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Beating the January Blues!

Short days, chilly weather, the end of the holidays, and for some, abandoned New Year’s resolutions make for an explosive cocktail: the so-called “January blues.” Defined by feelings of low mood and sadness paired with a lack of energy and motivation, the January blues
affect a large part of the global population, despite the feeling of isolation they can give.

In the UK, The Samaritans have assessed that 20% of people experience depression at this time of year, compared to 4.5% at any other time.

Are you getting the winter blues? Check out our tips to deal with the January blues and cope with low mood during darker days.

Seek the light:

Getting as much exposure to natural sunlight as possible can help you deal with low mood in winter. Try to go on a daily walk on your lunch break to get the most light. You can also use a lightbox to get your daily light fix when the sun gets shy.

Exercise:

No need to run a marathon or take up acrobatics. A simple walk or bike ride can do if you are able to schedule those into your diary. Find a solution that works for you. Why not take this opportunity to catch up on your favourite podcast or call a friend?

Stay warm:

Keeping warm can help you prevent colds and flu. However, the cold is not only a threat to your physical health. It can also affect your mental health. Your body uses energy to keep warm. That means being cold drains your energy and can make you feel tired and less
inclined to do the things that make you feel happy and productive. Layer up and keep your feet warm with cozy socks to maintain your body’s temperature. Some people also like to take their shower in the evening to get warm before going to bed.

Eat well:

Try to incorporate more healthy foods into your diet to fight low mood in winter. Leafy greens can help boost your immune system, and research shows that omega-3 fatty acids you find in mackerel, salmon, walnuts and even chia seeds can help reduce depression symptoms.

Sleep tight:

Create a bedtime routine that will help you fall and stay asleep more easily to get the rest you need. Avoid screens in the last half hour before bed so you get time to relax and let go of the worries of the day instead of letting them emerge as soon as your head hits the pillow. You can also try journaling to better identify your worries and deal with them appropriately.

Try to go to bed at the same time every day, and strive to get quality sleep, rather than focusing on how many hours you “should” be getting. Nowadays, most phones have a bedtime mode to help you log off at night and monitor your sleep to improve your sleeping habits.

Set realistic goals:

January is the time of year we make New Year’s resolutions. It is also the time of year we drop them. Setting over-ambitious goals in the middle of winter can be a recipe for disappointment.

Review your goals for the year and ask yourself how you can make them more realistic and achievable. Sometimes, it is not about aiming for the moon. Taking baby steps toward your goals is great too!

Practice gratitude:

Practicing gratitude can help us pay more attention to the good things in life and “reprogram” our minds to focus on the positive.

One way to practice gratitude is to write down five things you are grateful for every night before bed. It is a way to look back on your day in a positive light and put your worries in perspective.

Try something new:

Going back to your usual routine might feel a bit underwhelming after the cheer and warmth of the holidays. Why not spice things up with something new and exciting? Challenge yourself to do one thing you have never done before. It does not have to be bungee jumping. You can try a new recipe, go to a café you have never been to before, start a new activity… The possibilities are endless.

Connect with others:

You might want to spend time alone to recharge – and that is all right. However, connecting with others could also be the mood booster you need to beat the January blues. Try to allocate some time to socialize with friends or family in a non-stressful way.

Prioritise one-to-one time or small groups over big gatherings. Spending quality time with loved ones is a fantastic opportunity to get out of your own head and see the world through fresh eyes.

Talk it through:

Express yourself. Talking about how you feel can help you put words on your worries and feel supported and heard. Chances are that the person you are talking to might have been through a similar situation.

Take your time:

It is ok to struggle! The winter months are difficult for so many people. Do not feel guilty if you are a bit slower than usual getting back into your normal rhythm. You are doing great already.

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