After the joys of late December, January can feel a bit gloomy. But, it doesn't have to be that way. We spoke to experts about how you can tackle the January blues, and get your year off to a flying start.
Writing for LV= Love Life, health journalist Sarah Graham (@SarahGraham7) reveals 10 ways you can battle the January blues in 2018.
1. Catch up on sleep
First things first: take advantage of the calmer pace of life and make up for all that rushing around, shopping, and partying you did in December.
‘My mantra is ‘sleep for sanity’,’ says Suzy Reading (@SuzyReading), a chartered psychologist and author of The Self-Care Revolution. ‘After the busyness of the festive season, it helps to pay attention to your sleep needs and make it a genuine priority,’ she adds.
2. Find something to look forward to
It’s normal to feel sad that all the fun is over – so plan something you can look forward to in the new year! ‘Plan one thing and enjoy the anticipation of it. This can be as simple as looking forward to a solo walk on the weekend, or something more grand like booking a holiday,’ says Suzy. ‘Just the thought of this should buoy your spirits.’
3. Connect with purpose‘If there is something you are dreading, ask yourself why you do it,’ Suzy says. ‘Yes, I feel a sense of reticence about diving back into work mode, but when I recall that I work to put a roof above our heads and live in safety, I feel grounded in gratitude and purpose.
‘Harness that new year motivation and get your health and wellbeing on the radar,’ Suzy says. ‘Resist the temptation to make an elaborate, sweeping change. When it comes to sustainable lifestyle changes, small incremental changes work best.
‘Think one small change at a time, work on it until it’s habit, and then look at the next behaviour to modify,’ she continues.
7. Keep yourself active
‘During the winter months we tend to stay inside and not do much, but exercise releases endorphins, which triggers positive feelings in our body,’ explains Ayesha.
If you can bear to brave the cold, walking in nature is a great way to boost your wellbeing. Otherwise, think about indoor options – go to the gym, try out a dance class, or do some soothing floor-based yoga.
8. But pace yourself
Keeping busy is important, but remember to take it easy as well.
‘If you run yourself ragged, you’ll suppress your immune system and make yourself vulnerable to burning out,’ says Suzy. ‘Be honest about how you feel and allow yourself to make different choices.’
It could mean tackling the back-to-work blues by organising to start a little late, or leave a little early – after all, every employee has the right to ask for flexible working hours.
9. Make time for self-care
Suzy suggests using bite-sized nourishment to keep yourself going.
‘Self-care in an instant really helps,’ she says. ‘If taking down the Christmas decorations pained you, adorn the house with flowers or have some favourite snaps printed up.
‘Use scent or music. Savour a cup of tea or a sunset. Sit and stroke the cat. Try a podcast or TED talk on something that fascinates you,’ she suggests.
10. Seek help if you need it
If you’re consistently feeling low, tune in to what’s really going on.
‘The winter blues could be a symptom of a deeper issue. Talking to an expert can help you diagnose what those deeper issues may be, and help you to change behaviour patterns that may contribute to your winter blues,’ says Ayesha.
Remember too, adds Suzy, that ‘although Christmas time can be joyful, it can also be full of pressures, family tension, and for many of us, grief bubbles up.’
Treat yourself with patience and compassion, and don’t be afraid to ask for help if it’s all getting too much.
Taking good care of yourself throughout the New Year could help boost your physical and mental wellbeing, improve your life expectancy, and build resilience to help you make a strong start to 2018.