Once all the thrill and excitement of Christmas and New Years has passed and the reality of a cold, dark winter sets in, it is unsurprising that a lot of us experience the phenomenon known as the January blues. Yes, that little dip in your mood at the start of the year is totally normal, but you don’t have to accept it as just one of those things. There are plenty of ways to overcome the January blues, which we’ll discuss below.
Perhaps the most important tip on this whole list is to embrace self-care this January. Self-care is important year-round, but especially when we’re feeling low. No good will come from beating ourselves up for feeling like this. In fact, that will probably make you feel worse as you start to feel shame and guilt as well.
Self-care is essentially looking after ourselves, physically, mentally and emotionally. It is not a selfish act; it leaves you feeling more fulfilled and happy, which then means you’re able to give more to those around you. There is no set self-care routine that will work for everyone, it varies from person to person, but here are some general self-care ideas that we’ve come up with.
It’s important that you don’t set unrealistic resolutions and goals in the New Year. A New Year’s resolution like “I’m going to go to the gym for an hour everyday” only sets yourself up for failure. It’s unrealistic to expect yourself to go from little-to-no exercise, to going to the gym everyday. Plus, what about work, cooking and all that housework you’ve got to fit into your day! Cut yourself a break!
Unrealistic New Year’s resolutions make us feel like a failure when we’re unable to achieve them. So instead, think about setting realistic, sustainable goals. For example, if you would like to start exercising more, you should think about your lifestyle and come up with a plan that works for you. Perhaps you can’t make it to the gym everyday, but you could do a 30 minute home workout every other day. It’s important to set time limits on goals to keep us motivated, but they should not pressure us into sudden, drastic change, and we should always be flexible and willing to adapt them to the reality of our situation.
Yes, we’ve all heard it a thousand times before, but that’s because it’s true! Exercise is a great way to boost your mood, as it releases endorphins which cause feelings of pleasure. Plus, exercise is good for our physical health and helps us sleep better, both of which are also tied to our mood.
This doesn’t mean you have to be slogging away in the gym for hours either. Make exercise work for you. If you love being outdoors, then pull on your hiking boots and hit your nearest walking trail. If you used to rule the netball court when you were younger, see if there’s any local groups you could join. Or maybe you’re not much of the sporty, outdoorsy type, in which case crank some tunes and have a good old boogie around the house. Anything that gets you moving is good for you, it’s up to you what that is.
This is particularly important for young adults. It’s easy to go on Instagram and feel like everyone is having the time of their lives, but as we all know, social media is all smoke and mirrors. Think about how many times you yourself might have posted a photo from a night out all glammed up and ready to go – when in reality it was a pretty mneh night and you were home by 11.
There is a general consensus that too much social media can have a detrimental effect on mental health, as we compare ourselves to other users, which leads to feelings of insecurity and less satisfaction with your own life. It’s also easy to fall into that social media wormhole of scrolling and scrolling, never taking your eyes off your phone. Then, before you know it, it’s bedtime. So instead of reaching for your phone, why not write a to-do list, do some chores, fit in a quick workout or pick up a book. Something that makes you feel better, not worse. Limiting your time on social media can therefore help you to feel more satisfied with your own life and increase your productivity.
Or, if you don’t want to cut down your time on social media, it could just be time to have a good clear out of the accounts you follow. The influencer who buys a new designer item everyday? Gone. That toxic friend who’s constantly causing drama? See ya later! Your ex? BYE! And if you’re worried about actually unfollowing/unfriending people, there’s always the option to mute their account instead.
It’s easy to feel lonely in January, after all the Christmas parties have been and gone. That’s why it’s important to keep in touch with family and friends, who can support you and stop you feeling isolated. If you can’t see them in person, a simple text message or phone call can help you feel connected.
One tip I’ve taken from my mum is to always have a date in your diary to look forward to. Okay, the weather might be rubbish in January but that doesn’t mean you can’t have a good night out! Just wear jeans and take your brolly – sorted! Or, if money’s tight, you could just have friends round for a takeaway and a movie night.
We hope this helps you to conquer those January blues and remember if you’re experiencing persistent low moods, make an appointment to see your GP who can help you to understand why you’re feeling like this and suggest treatment options.
Here’s to looking after ourselves in 2022!