With the dark nights and the arrival of unpaid credit card bills, it is no surprise that January 20th, the third Monday in January, has been awarded the gloomy title of Blue Monday. With the long wait until payday and soggy weather, you may experience low motivational levels, while feeling upset about failing with New Year’s Resolutions.
It is important to distinguish between temporary feelings of sadness or anxiety which everyone has from time to time, and a more serious mental health problem such as depression.
According to Liz Ritchie, a psychotherapist at St Andrew’s Healthcare, there’s plenty of things that everyone can do to help overcome the misery that Blue Monday can bring.
“Most of us have heard the saying ‘winter blues’ referring to feeling low and deflated over the winter - especially once the excitement of Christmas is over and reality sets back in. Unless you spend the winter in sunnier climes abroad, you are stuck with the UK’s reduced daylight hours.” Liz said.
“You may be commuting to and from work in the dark, comfort eating, and feel like you’ve not seen daylight for weeks on end, all of which can lead to low mood, which can increase feelings of sadness and anxiety.”
“But there are ways of overcoming this, from things such as staying active, eating well, trying new hobbies and keeping in touch with friends. January doesn’t have to be a month where you hibernate, why not invite friends over for a night of health eating!” Liz added.
So what can be done if you’re feeling down now January is here? St Andrew’s Healthcare has put together seven top tips to try beat those winter blues:
1. GET OUTSIDE!
Research has shown that many of us are affected by Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), sometimes known as ‘winter depression’. The symptoms for SAD are often more pronounced in January and February and include low mood, feeling lethargic, sleeping for longer, irritability, feelings of despair and loss of pleasure. If you think that you’re experiencing SAD then it’s worth speaking to your GP, but everyone will benefit from increasing their exposure to sunlight throughout the day – why not take a walk at lunchtime and boost your physical and emotional wellbeing, too!
2. GET ACTIVE!
Often we struggle with the motivation to exercise in the winter, as it may be dark when you get home or it’s cold and rainy. Why not bring the exercise indoors! If the gym is not for you, how about an exercise DVD at home? Or a local Zumba, Boxercise or yoga class? Or you could just switch some music on and dance around your living room – anything to get your heart pumping and those endorphins buzzing.
3. EAT WELL!
Be mindful of your eating habits; it is easy to forget that you need to be nourished as well as satisfied. Try and eat right. Winter often makes us want to stock up on carbs and fats to feel comforted and full, but it’s important to have a well-balanced diet. Stock up on good foods - it doesn’t all have to be about kale, it’s the perfect season for hearty soups and stews!
4. GET SOCIAL!
Avoid the temptation to hibernate. While there is nothing wrong with being cosy indoors, if we do this for too long we tend to miss out on our relationships with others which provide us with social interaction. Say yes to invitations and make an effort to spend time with people, especially positive ones who lift your spirits.
5. MAKE PLANS
Look ahead and have something to look forward to. That summer holiday might feel like lightyears away so make sure you get some dates in the diary for fun activities throughout the year. Go and see that show at the theatre you have been meaning to see, have a spa day, plan a weekend away, get tickets for the football or look at events that you can set a goal for, such as a 10k race or fun run. Even volunteering for a local charity, being Charitable isn’t just for Christmas. Having something to look forward to can really benefit our emotional health and keep us motivated.
6. CHALLENGE YOURSELF
New Year’s resolutions can be a great opportunity to try something new, and test your boundaries, but make sure you are setting realistic goals and plan for them. For example, if you have set yourself a goal to run a marathon, plan your training with smaller achievable goals throughout the year, such as running a 5k race and build it up from there. This can give you a real sense of purpose and achievement. Setting goals jointly with someone else is great for motivation and moral support. Why do resolutions only have to be at New Year? Consider setting yourself other goals and resolutions at different points in the year too.
7. CELEBRATE THE GOOD STUFF.
It’s easy to remember the bad stuff and forget about the little things. As January is still young, why not start a memory jar? Add in notes about all the good things that happen throughout the year then on New Year’s Eve open the jar and read through all the great stuff that happened in 2020.