Coping with January Blues

By Samantha De Bono

January is a difficult month for a great many of us. Not only are we broke from a costly Christmas, but the month seems endless. Usually we get paid earlier in December, so the wait for January pay day is way too far away. Then to add insult to injury we get forgotten by the sun (I’m talking about that yellow thing in the sky, not the newspaper) and it’s dark by 4pm which makes us feel like nocturnal creatures. Is it any wonder we’re feeling glum?

There are however some things we can do to manage our mood and wellbeing through the winter months.

Firstly don’t spend too much time indoors. As it is, we hardly get enough sunlight during these months which means our vitamin D levels may drop and take our good mood with it.

As unmotivated as you may feel, it becomes a vicious circle: feel miserable > can’t be bothered to do anything > feel even more miserable. So getting out and about is really important.

We all know that exercise reduces stress and raises endorphins. I’m not suggesting you start training for a 10k (although that would be pretty awesome) I’m suggesting you go for a walk every day for 30 minutes. If you work, get out at lunch time and plan to be outside over the weekend, find a place you enjoy walking.

Doing this can also help your sleep which will make you more productive and positive during the day.

30 minutes every day of outdoors and walking is truly a win-win. Please give it a go!

Look at what you’re eating and drinking. Christmas tends to be a period of over indulgence, so we go into January feeling sluggish and out of shape.

Alcohol is a depressant, so if you’re feeling low already, you’re just adding to it. If you rely on a drink to get you to sleep, you’re doing yourself a disservice. The sleep you get from alcohol is not a healthy, restful sleep. It’s not a sleep that nourishes the brain. So if you enjoy a glass of wine, have it earlier, not before bed.

What we put into our bodies will eventually effect our mood, so clean eating is a great way to lift mood.

Walnuts, bananas and tomatoes are said to be good for lifting serotonin levels, so instead of snacking on biscuits, try to replace it with something that feeds your mood rather than saps it.

Good sleep is a crucial part of our mental wellbeing. Exercising and diet are ways to enhance or encourage a good sleep pattern, but getting into good habits before bedtime is also necessary.

Sitting in bed surfing the net or reading emails is not going to calm you and get you into a sleep-ready mindset. If anything, what you’ve been reading or writing is going to intrude on your sleep process. So make a change. Stop with any technology 90 minutes before bedtime, read, have bath or listen to calming music or meditation instead.

Try to get into a night time routine that calms you and prepares you for a peaceful sleep, which in turn will give you more energy and clarity the following day.

If your low mood continues and you are unable to do any of the things listed above or get relief by doing the things I’ve suggested here, you could be suffering from depression.

Don’t suffer unnecessarily on your own, seek help from a professional. Life is too short to struggle alone and you deserve to be happy.

Samantha De Bono