‘Blue Monday’ is fast becoming a recognisable turn of phrase in January, narrowing it down to one specific day can be seen as pseudoscience. The fact is that people do tend to feel blue in general. The holiday season tends to give us some time where we can slow down and switch off. Switching back on can take a while, add in the financial pinch that we all feel after spending so much on the festivities and it’s no wonder January isn’t everyone’s favourite month.
There is, however, always strategies that can help defend against the melancholy and there is a choice we can make to say this year we will not allow ourselves to succumb to the January blues.
We can often get a bit bored about this advice, we only have to turn the page and we are being told to exercise more. As annoying as it can seem- it really does work! Fresh air and exercise produces hormones that help push the January blues away. A winter walk once a week with the family is a fantastic achievable goal to set yourself. As well as the reward of mood boosting hormones, thought patterns will change and allow you space, where if you let it you can think more positively about the rest of the year and start setting achievable goals. Remember there is no such thing as bad weather in the UK, just bad clothing!
It is important that you have something to look forward to in January. What do you enjoy doing? Do you have the funds for a small treat like the cinema, a sporting event or some pampering? If funds are tight then set some time aside that is just for youmaybe a Saturday afternoon where you watch your recorded TV programmes or get stuck into your favourite book.
The biggest mistake people can make is to shut themselves off from the rest of the world until February. The need to hibernate may be financially motivated but being sociable does not have to cost money. Being cut off from friends and family can worsen your moods. Face to face contact has psychological benefits, so arrange to go to a friend’s house for coffee or organise a movie night. Whatever you do make the effort to see people. It will make you feel better.
Set Yourself Some Realistic Goals
Most people fail in their new year’s resolutions which has a drain on their wellbeing and mental health. Instead decide a few goals that can be achieved and make them after New Year’s Day. Maybe you enjoyed your outside walk- you will commit to doing it at least once a week? Your movie night that you did mid-January- you will arrange once a month? It’s not always the resolution itself that can create the wellbeing, it’s the fact that you have stuck to something you said you would. Make it small and achievable and you will soon be creating bigger goals.
Recent studies all suggest that good nutrition is essential for our mental health. However, it is really easy to fall into bad habits, especially when we are not feeling too motivated. The annoying thing is that eating refined processed food often makes us more lethargic and negatively effects our mood. One way to combat this is to cook all your food at once, that way you only have to invest time once and you can spend the rest of the week feeling happy that you are looking after yourself. If you don’t mind eating the same thing for a week, batch cook lunch and dinner five times on a Sunday afternoon. Maybe you want chicken breast, veg and mash potatoes for dinner and a chilli for lunch. Make room in the freezer and freeze individual portions ready to be zapped in the microwave. Remember eating well and looking after yourself does not mean it has to be lettuce and rye bread, just good wholesome unprocessed foods.