The festivities are over, the decorations are down and it’s still cold and miserable outside and money is getting tight as well as feeling down in the dumps. January can be the hardest time of the year, and it can be hard to pull through it, but there are ways to help you beat the January blues.

Here are 7 ways to help you get through the January blues:

1) Get daylight

It is definitely a lot colder around this time of year. But there are ways you can help pick yourself up. The best thing to do is go out and get some daylight and it will also help you fight of the dreaded winter bugs!

Don’t just stay in a room all day with the curtains closed, as this is bound to make you feel gloomy and that is not what you want especially as you’re most likely feeling low anyways. Just go for a little walk, even if its cold, just chuck on a coat, hat and scarf and you’ll be good to go. Or even sitting closer to a window when you’re indoors, can help get some kind of light.

It is often recommended by Doctors for those who suffer with SAD (Seasonal affective disorder) to purchase a light box (a special light that simulates daylight) for 30 minutes a day. If you’re looking into using one of these, even if you’re not diagnosed with SAD you have to talk to a health care professional before doing so as well as knowing that they’re very pricey.

Even though the days are very miserable and you may not want to go out. Just try your best, even if its for a few minutes, it’ll boost your mood. Vitamin D is another great element, for not being able to get outside enough. Make sure to talk to a health professional before taking this vitamin. Some studies have linked low vitamin D levels to SAD. With fluctuating levels of Vitamin D, affecting the serotonin levels in the brain. Vitamin D is mainly comes from your skin when it is exposed to sunlight it also helps manage calcium in your blood, bones and gut and helps cells all over your body to communicate properly.

Without Vitamin D your body will not perform at its best. You can also find it in food such as oily fish, eggs and breakfast cereals.

2) Avoid unrealistic new year resolutions and don’t be to hard on yourself!

None of us like failure! So don’t go making a ton of resolutions and expectations if they’re simply not achievable. Like anything make realistic goals and you’ll feel a lot better with the outcome. Don’t say you’re going to loose 7 stone in three months because realistically you can’t.

Make goals such as spending more time with your family, exercising more, eating more vegetables, loosing 2 pound a week. Goals don’t have to have a finishing time, go at your own steady pace. Don’t let someone else’s choices for the new year, make you feel down. Chances are that you have realistic goals and even though they will take time, you will get there!

Something that is unrealistic will set you up to fail and will make you feel like a ‘failure’ when you don’t do it. Making a resolution to better yourself is a good thing to do, just make sure they’re things that are achievable and do them because you want too!

Don’t be so hard on yourself, if you simply can’t do it. We all mess up sometimes that’s ok, just move on. If you accomplish your goal, treat yourself. Weather it be a movie, a day out with friends or a bottle of wine.

3) Book a week a way

You know what’s great? Having something to look forward to. Most of the time, having something to look forward too will help us focus on that and push through whatever we have to do before then.

It’s a bit like exercising ‘once I’ve pushed through this last five minutes then that’s it’ it’s the same. It fills life with joy and excitement. So booking a holiday is a perfect example.

Make it for next month, if the miserable weather is what gets you down, book a holiday to a tropical paradise where the sun is shining and the skies are bright and blue or go to a quiet lodge somewhere. Most places will have offers on, or perhaps bring someone with you to make the costs cheaper.

4) Sleep

Something that is so underrated is sleep. People loosing more and more sleep as days go on, because social media and games are now more popular now then ever.

It’s hard to catch a couple of hours, if your phones constantly buzzing. But it can seriously make you feel so much better and will determine how you will feel for the next day.

It can benefit your heart, weight and your mind. It can also improve your creativity and sharpen your attention! If you wake up in the morning feeling refreshed, your day will go a lot better and you will feel happy.

5) Exercise

It definitely sounds like more of a cliche to join the gym, especially as it’s January, but don’t let that stop you.

Exercise could be exactly what you need to lift you out of that dull mood. Science has proven that exercise releases endorphins (your bodies feel-good hormones) and lifts your mood after completion. Not only does it help your mood but it helps you feel less guilty about the food you indulged in. But you do not always have to join a gym to make you feel better.

Perhaps you’d rather stay in the comfort of your own home, that’s ok. Lay down a mat, open your curtains, drink a glass of water and stick on a YouTube video that caters for what particular work out you want to do. Or if you’d prefer to get outside and explore your surroundings go for a nice brisk walk, or a run and get some fresh air.

Try yoga, it can be a great way to escape the stresses of daily life. A great way to relax after a busy day. It increases your muscle strength and tone, weight reduction and protects from injury!

6) Eat to improve your mood

It is safe to say that chocolate has been shown to improve mood and help relieve anxiety, being that dark chocolate is a lot better for you. However, most of us will turn to carbohydrates when we’re feeling down in the dumps, which can be a bad cycle.

Things like crisps, white bread and fizzy drinks, taste great when you’re eating them, but make you feel so much worse later on when your blood sugars crash.

Try and have little comfort foods that are not loaded with carbs. Perhaps a cup of fruity tea, or a small piece of dark chocolate. This will help you relax and will not make you feel rubbish for eating to much. Eat plenty of fruit and vegetables, they’re just better for you in the long run and will make you feel better about yourself.

However, some carbs are good for us, but to much of the bad kind is no good. Make yourself some vegetable soup to make you feel warm and cosy rather than grabbing a hot chocolate that is loaded with sugar.

7) Declutter and organise your home!

The worst thing after Christmas is trying to find a place for everything you got to go and to be quite honest it can be stressful. So have a clear out! Get rid of all the unnecessary items that have been cluttering up your life.

Give all the clothes you no longer wear to charity, and start a fresh new wardrobe, perhaps change your style up and get a new look. Organise your room, tidy your draws up or your desk, clean your house from top to bottom and clean up all the unnecessary mess.

Having an untidy environment can affect your mood significantly. It needs to feel positive and clean. Perhaps adding a few indoor plants around the house or getting a salt lamp to help you feel more calm. It will clear your mind and help you feel refreshed and ready to take on the new year!

Seasonal affective disorder

Seasonal affective disorder is a type of depression that comes and goes in a seasonal pattern. Commonly known as the ”winter depression” because it is usually more apparent in the winter months. Common symptoms of SAD are:

  • A persistent low mood
  • A loss of pleasure or interest in everyday activities
  • irritability
  • feelings of despair, guilt and worthlessness
  • Feeling lethargic (lacking in energy) and sleepy during the day
  • sleeping for longer than normal and finding it hard to get up in the morning
  • craving carbs and gaining weight
  •  

Some common causes for SAD are the production of melatonin- which is a hormone that make you feel sleepy, for people with it, the body may produce it in higher levels than normal. The production of serotonin which is a hormone that affects your mood, appetite and sleep, not having enough sunlight can lead to lower serotonin levels, which links to depression. Your body uses the sunlight to time certain functions, so when you wake up, your lower light levels during winter will disrupt your body clock. In some cases, it can be passed genetically as it appears to run in some families.

There are treatments for SAD being: Lifestyle measures, which means getting as much sunlight as possible. Light therapy, using a special lamp to simulate exposure to sunlight. Talking to a therapist or getting counselling. Taking antidepressant medication, depending on what your doctor thinks.

You should consider seeing your GP if you think you might have SAD and if you’re struggling to cope.

Money struggles

Money is the biggest struggle of day to day life, but it can be even harder after Christmas. Lets face is January is such a hard time of the year. After buying everything for Christmas from gifts, to food and to other little bits and bobs, it can cost you a fortune.

After saving up for months and months, working excessive amounts of hours, it can be so hard. It’s safe to say that it will be hard after Christmas to find the money to pay for things. But there are ways you can help yourself, start budgeting, perhaps that can be your new years resolution, because it will definitely help you out in the long run.

Perhaps make a budget planner to help you out! Make a money plan of how much you have to spend a week, so for example if you have to spend money of shopping, travel, rent etc plan out how much it’ll be and work with what you have left and don’t overdo it. Try and find ways to cut back, so if you buy something when you shop that you don’t actually need don’t buy it. Buy the things you need, not the things you want. Sell things, do a boot fair, give yourself some extra money to spend, by selling things you no longer use.

If you ever feel depressed or are struggling to cope. Reach out and get help, you’ll feel better for doing so, don’t suffer alone.

Call Samaritans on 116 123 or email jo@samaritans.org.

https://www.facebook.com/BeckyCares/

https://www.counsellorwhocares.co.uk/

Student Journalist