Hi everyone! I’m incredibly nervous today as this is the first post in a new feature I want to introduce to my blog this year! As well as regularly battling episodes of anxiety and depression, I am studying to be a counsellor – so my interest in mental health is STRONG. For a while, I’ve wanted to bring more mental health chat to the blog and I really hope it’s something you’ll get on board with – hopefully we can spark some good discussions 🙂
For my first post, I’m going to keep it fairly light and talk about something many of us face after Christmas and New Year: the ‘January Blues’. After all the excitement of the festive season (spending time with friends and family, eating and drinking great things, giving and receiving gifts, and decorating everything with twinkly lights), January can seem especially bleak. Everyone goes back to work (if you were lucky enough to get time off in the first place), most people start some kind of diet or make some other resolution to get fit, drink more water, stop smoking or drinking, or generally become a better person. This puts a extra pressure on us at a time when we are already dealing with a lot. Many people can develop SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder) as a result of the dark days and the cold weather, and people are often struggling financially due to the toll of excessive gift-buying and trying to stretch wages that they were paid before Christmas.
So I thought I’d make a list of some little things we can all do to keep our spirits up in this most miserable month of the year!
*Please note that, while I am in the process of completing my diploma, I am not yet a qualified health professional and all advice given in this post is based on things I have personally found helpful at times. This post is not intended to replace the recommendations of qualified doctors or therapists.*
Reset Your Sleep Pattern
December is party season and the many late nights and subsequent lie-ins can result in your sleep pattern being disrupted. Although you may not feel like it, getting back into a good sleep routine can really help keep your mood up as the new year gets under way. Not only will it help when it comes to going back to work, it will just generally help you to feel like a functioning human if you’re going to bed at a reasonable time of night and getting up before lunchtime. If you’re a night owl like me and struggle to get back into a routine, try practising good sleep hygiene: drink decaf tea after 6pm, try not to eat too much in the evening, limit screen time before bed and keep your room a reasonable temperature (I’d say on the cool side).
Eat Some Fruit and Vegetables
I’m not saying you have to go on a diet. Resolving to lose weight in the new year is something that irritates me no end – this is the kind of change you can make at any time and, as I already mentioned, we shouldn’t be putting extra pressure on ourselves at an already stressful time! I do, however, recommend getting some vitamins into you. Christmas is notorious for the amount of fatty, sugary foods we ingest; everyone is allowed to eat chocolate for breakfast in December, after all! Change it up and get the sweetness you crave from a piece of fruit. Have your leftover ham and turkey with a salad. Your body will thank you.
Get Some Fresh Air
Many people, myself included, are inclined to hibernate during the winter months. It takes a lot to entice me out of the warmth of my house when it’s freezing and miserable outside. Yet I always enjoy a walk in the brisk January air and end up feeling energised after pushing myself to do it. I know that a lot of people have a tradition of going for a New Years’ Day hike and I think that’s a great idea – but even a short stroll will give you a boost after that weird period between Christmas and New Year when you just don’t have a clue what day it is.
Start a Gratitude Journal
If you struggle to stay positive in January, a gratitude journal can really help. At one of my lowest points a few years ago, when I was confined to my house with agoraphobia, I needed as many little reminders as possible that there were good things in my life. I got myself a little notebook and decided to write down three things at the end of each day that I was grateful for. They didn’t have to be huge things; it could be my little cousin telling me they loved me, it could be a really great song, it could be the sight of a rainbow through my window. Appreciating the little things helps to change your mindset and make you feel more positive overall.
Raise Your Self-Care Game
I’m a firm advocate of self-care at any time of year but particularly in January! It’s important to take care of yourself and still give yourself little treats, to combat any feelings of depression.
Some self-care ideas:
- Take lots of relaxing baths with gorgeous-smelling bubbles
- Light some candles and put on a face mask
- Book yourself a massage or a manicure, or an appointment to get your hair done
- Buy yourself a lovely new jumper or pair of shoes
- Reread a favourite book or watch a favourite movie
- Create a playlist of songs that make you feel uplifted and listen to it regularly
- Do some spring cleaning (a tidy environment = a tidy mind! Or so they say hehe)
Well, those are my tips for fighting the ‘January Blues’! I really hope you guys find this post interesting and informative – I’d love to chat with you in the comments if you have anything at all to say!
Is this kind of mental health post something you might enjoy seeing on the blog? And are there any particular topics you would like me to cover? Please let me know if you have any suggestions! x