I’m one of those odd folk that actually likes January. The Christmas fuss is over and the opportunity of a new year starts to appear once we get back to a regular schedule. I like that the shortest day of the year is past and it starts to get a bit brighter while still being the right weather to cosey up in the evenings and light the fire. I don’t love taking the dogs out in the cold and rain, as much as they love it, but it’s worth going outside by the time I get back in, I always feel the benefit of it.
I know for many the “January blues” can be very real and refers to feelings of low energy, motivation, and mood that some people experience after the holidays. Here are some strategies that I find help beat the January blues and that last all year too.
**Set Realistic Goals:** Start the year with achievable and realistic goals. Break them down into smaller tasks to make progress more manageable. Grab a pen and start thinking about what you really want.
**Exercise Regularly:** Physical activity can have a positive impact on mood and energy levels. Even short, regular walks or light workouts can make a difference, especially outside. It’s such a bright morning today so it’s perfect. On rainy days I’ll get the rain gear on and still go out though.
**Get Sunlight Exposure:** Lack of sunlight in winter can contribute to low mood. Spend time outdoors during daylight hours, and consider using a light therapy box if sunlight is limited. I’ll also take good quality Vitamin D capsules each morning from September onwards. Getting outside early is a great way to boost the vitamin D too.
**Maintain a Healthy Diet:** Eat a balanced diet with plenty of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. Avoid excessive caffeine, sugar, and processed foods, as they can affect energy levels and mood but also be kind to yourself. You might need a treat now and then to give you a little dose of serotonin.
**Stay Socially Connected:** This one makes a huge difference I think. Reach out to friends and family. Social connections can provide support and a sense of belonging, helping combat feelings of loneliness. Go out to eat socially too, it’s a great way to enjoy company, change the scenery and get fed at the same time.
**Practice Mindfulness and Relaxation Techniques:** Incorporate mindfulness or meditation into your routine. These practices can help reduce stress and improve overall well-being. There is lots of choices online.
**Plan Enjoyable Activities:** Schedule activities that you enjoy, whether it’s trying a new hobby, watching movies, or spending time with loved ones. Having things to look forward to can boost your mood. I love planning the garden stuff in January. You really do reap what you sow and can have an amazing place to sit in summer if you start planning now. I’ll invite participation too, get a friend or family member to add their ideas to the pot and maybe, come spring, start enjoying it too.
**Stay Hydrated:** With the heating on and the fire lit you can get a bit more dehydrated than usual. Dehydration can contribute to feelings of fatigue. Make sure you’re drinking enough water throughout the day.
**Get Adequate Sleep:** Aim for a consistent sleep schedule and ensure you are getting enough restorative sleep. Lack of sleep can negatively impact mood and energy levels. An early night is way better than a lie in for your sleep cycle. And in winter it’s especially nice.
**Seek Professional Support:** If the January blues persist and significantly affect your well-being, consider talking to a mental health professional. They can provide guidance and support and at the clinic on Sullivan’s Quay in Cork, we have some of the best in their field. So reach out and start the conversation as soon as you can.
Remember, it’s fairly normal to experience fluctuations in mood, especially during transitional periods. However, if you find that these feelings persist or interfere with your daily life, seeking help from a healthcare professional is important. They can offer personalized advice and support based on your specific situation.