The January blues or winter blues are something we are all familiar with. Gone is the colour and excitement of Christmas leaving behind credit card bills, cold weather and long, dark nights.
Here at The Spark we are saying ‘no’ to the January blues. We want to help you make the most of January!
We have put together 10 great ways to help you beat the January blues.
Day 1: Expect a lull after Christmas and New Year
Even though we know it is coming we still go in to January unprepared and almost shocked by its lack of fun. After the excitement of Christmas and New Year, returning to the mundane aspects of everyday life – washing dishes, paying bills, going back to work – catches us by surprise and lays the foundations for the January blues.
Instead of wallowing, accept that January will be less fun than the festive period. Look at January as an opportunity for some self-reflection and take advantage of a quieter few weeks.
Use that extra time to consider what you would like to do, learn or achieve this year. Think about a New Year resolution or consider what you want to make this year like for you.
Day 2: Consider what you have right now instead of focusing on what you don’t
Even if we did get what we wanted for Christmas, in our era of consumerism the chances are we will still end up wanting more. There can be a sort of ‘Christmas present hangover’ when we realise someone else got a bigger, faster or more expensive version of whatever we received.
Try going back to basics and consider what you have right now. And not just in terms of ‘stuff’. What about your health, your family, good relationships with friends or your steady job? Consider how much you enjoyed the Christmas break and what you have to look forward to this year.
A different mind-set can go a long way to tackling the January blues.
Day 3: Have a realistic New Year resolution or resolutions
We have all fallen victim to making bold New Year resolutions that evaporate by the end of the first week in January. Consequently we add more negative energy to the January blues by using our failure as a stick to beat ourselves with.
Take some time to decide on your New Year resolution. There is no law that states it has to be sorted before midnight on 31 December! Read our article on sticking to your New Year resolutions and set a resolution or resolutions that are realistic in terms of time, finances and other commitments.
For example, setting out to ‘join a gym, work out 3 times a week and lose half a stone in weight by February’ is likely to fail. For starters that 1 resolution actually incorporates about 8 pretty tough resolutions within it:
- Join a gym
- Get in to a habit of going to the gym at least once a week
- Don’t quit the gym after 2 weeks like most people do
- Create enough space in my week to go to the gym 3 times per week
- Build up to going to the gym consistently 3 times per week
- Get a healthy eating plan
- Start the healthy eating plan
- Stick to the healthy eating plan for more than 2 weeks
- Cut out sweets, chocolate and sugar.
Be realistic and consider setting out smaller, more achievable goals to get you started towards your ultimate goal.
Day 4: Don’t give up on relationships
Sadly January is the peak month for couples beginning divorce proceedings. Often the pressure of Christmas and New Year leaves one or both parties to a marriage waving the white flag.
Before Christmas we encouraged couples with relationship problems to seek marriage counselling/ couple counselling in advance. In January we ask that couples consider counselling as a way to heal their relationship wounds before opting for separation.
The emotional, mental and financial cost of divorce or separation is immense – more so when children are involved. Counselling is a genuine alternative to accepting divorce is the only outcome. All too often couples will try to resolve issues privately but counselling is a better alternative. Working with a professional counsellor can provide couples with the opportunity to work through their problems instead of heading straight to court.
Day 5: Commit to an exercise plan
Exercise is good for us, plain and simple. The endorphins and other chemicals released by exercise are the body’s natural way of making us feel good. Beyond that exercise can help with weight management, reduce our risk of serious illness like heart disease and can be a great way to socialise.
Banish the usual ‘it’s too cold, wet and dark outside’ January excuses and get some back up plans in place. Swimming, gym classes or yoga are perfect indoor activities for colder months when a brisk walk or jog is less appealing.
Day 6: Which relationships do you want to improve in the New Year?
Scientific research is piling up every week to confirm that good, healthy relationships are key to our happiness. More than wealth or status, strong long-lasting relationships are the key to good mental and emotional wellbeing.
In January consider which relationships you want to improve or enjoy more of. Instead of dwelling on how those relationships might be in a bad place or have been neglected, consider talking to a relationship counsellor about how to approach key issues in those important relationships. Then you will be able to take some positive and proactive steps towards improving them.
Day 7: Get some daylight
Though it might not feel like it, from around 22/23 December the days actually started getting longer. Admittedly by only a few seconds at first but by the time we reach late January the days are nearly 4 minutes longer (and lengthening!).
Instead of staying indoors from January to April, plan in a regular lunchtime walk during work or get out at the weekend while the sun is up. Even low intensity winter sunlight can positively impact our mood and January tends to be drier than November and December too! (we didn’t quite believe it either but its true!)
As Billy Connolly always says: “In Scotland there is no such thing as bad weather, only unsuitable clothing.” Wrap up and get out there.
Day 8: Work on one aspect of your life at a time
Self-reflection at the start of a new year is a valuable thing to do. But it can often become a stick (or several) with which we beat ourselves with. We can end up analysing all aspects of our life and come to the depressing conclusion that everything needs attention. Overwhelmed we do nothing and feel even worse about ourselves.
Pick one area of your life and focus on that. Is it your relationship with your partner? Is it a desire to spend more time with your kids? Do you want to get more exercise or learn a new skill? Do you want to socialise more with friends? Pick one area and work on that.
Once you see positive signs of progress, consider adding one other aspect of your life you would like to work on but remember the principles of our Day 3 advice on setting resolutions and goals.
Day 9: Take a look at your job
Few people head back to work in January with a spring in their step. Most of us would happily spend a few more weeks chilling out in our Christmas pyjamas watching our favourite movies. But if you are genuinely unhappy at the prospect of going back, it might be worth taking a look at your job.
It might be time to look for a new opportunity elsewhere. But also consider what you do like about your current job. Are there ways to do more of that? Similarly are there any ways you can think to make your day more enjoyable or interesting?
Alternatively could you move to a different team or department within your organisation? Could you learn new skills to broaden opportunities in your workplace?
You might be surprised how many options are available that could mean you do not need to find a completely new job to get more satisfaction.
Day 10: Plan a holiday
Getting a holiday booked and in the diary is a great way to tackle the January blues. And it does not have to be an expensive trip overseas.
Planning a few days off or a ‘staycation’ give us something to look forward to as much as a trip to the sun. The excitement and anticipation of the holiday is believed to release endorphins in a similar way to exercise.
While the January credit card bill might not allow you to book a trip away, there is nothing to stop you getting some ideas and starting planning. When the January blues start to kick in get yourself loaded up with travel brochures and start planning!
Counselling and support
January can be a difficult time for any of us. Relationship issues, financial worries and the winter blues are common at this time of year.