The January Blues
Have you been feeling low in mood this month? Feeling in a slump, with little energy or motivation? Let me tell you, you are not alone. You are most likely experiencing the January Blues. And this can be more than just a bit flat after the fun of Christmas. I believe it is a much more serious issue. The Samaritans report that around 20% of people experience depression in January compared to 4.5% during the rest of the year. And with Monday 17th January heralded as the most depressing day of the year, it is time to take a more serious look at the beginning of the year and what you can do to beat the blues.
The third Monday in January is deemed the most depressing day of the year.
What causes the January Blues?
The cold weather and lack of daylight reduces our vitamin D levels and our energy, with some feeling the effects of Seasonal Affective Disorder /SAD). After the buzz and build-up to Christmas, we can feel that there isn’t much to look forward to in January. Perhaps you are feeling the financial strain of Christmas (or your work has been affected by the pandemic) and you have money worries. It can feel like a long month waiting for pay day.
New Year Resolutions
From the first of January, we are bombarded with messages that we should make our New Year resolutions. That after an exhausting year and just a few days after Christmas, we should be rushing into another year and know exactly what we want for the coming year. Did you know that 80% of new year resolutions fail? They often focus on depriving yourself of something or limiting yourself in some way and have a negative focus. Plus we often make sweeping vague goals like I’ll exercise more or I’ll eat better without any specific goals or plans. Furthermore, we often don’t set up a robust support and accountability system. When we fail at our new year resolutions just a couple of weeks into January this can add to our January blues. Instead of making new year resolutions, read how tweaking your habits can have a bigger impact on next week’s blog.
5 Ways To Manage The Blues
The good news is that there is a lot you can do to take control of January with these suggestions.
1. Name it
When you can name something it can help you understand what is going on and how to manage it. You can often internalise difficult times as something you are not coping with or can worry that there is something wrong with you. Or simply not understand why you feel the way that you do. Knowing that the January Blues is a very real thing, why it happens and how to deal with it. And furthermore, it allows you to be more compassionate and understanding with yourself.
2. Slow down
Winter is a time to live a slower pace of life, not to be rushing around. I use this time to pause and reflect on the past year and to contemplate the year ahead. Use this time to be more present. Let go of expectations and be comfortable with slowing down.
3. Embrace the winter
When we resist something it only becomes a bigger issue. Find ways to embrace the winter, even if it’s not your favourite time of the year. Think candles and fairy lights, fireplaces, cosy blankets and cushions, hot chocolate, delicious food, meals with friends or quiet nights reading a book. Soft fluffy jumpers, scarves and fur coats. Spend time pampering yourself and on your self-care.
4. Reach out to people
During the winter and when you are low in mood and energy, it feels more natural to withdraw from people and the world. Instead, make family and friends a priority. Meet for a walk or a coffee or lunch if you don’t want to go out at night. Invite people around for coffee and cake or a glass of wine or dinner. Make a point of connecting with people who you enjoy spending time with.
When you are already feeling low, reading the news can often make you feel more hopeless and depressed. Make sure you are getting your news from a reliable source and limit your news intake to a few minutes once or twice a day. Look for sources of positive news to counterbalance the negativity that you hear. Also, consider limiting your social media usage. One because when we are low, we can zone out by mindlessly scrolling on social media when there are other more healthy and productive ways to feel better. And secondly, we often compare ourselves to others and on social media people post the edited highlights of their life which can leave us feeling that other people are doing well and are more sorted than us. This in turn makes us feel worse. By limiting news and social media, we lessen the risk of compounding our negative feelings.
What can you do next?
The January Blues are very real and attention should be given to how you feel. By following these 5 tips, you can help manage and reduce those blues. Find out further 30 tips to beat it in my article about Blue Monday.
Happiness Evangelist, Life Coach, Best-Selling Author and Speaker with over 30 years of experience, helping you to live a happy and fulfilling life.
Discover and live to your true potential. Live the life you desire!