Post-Christmas depression, Winter blues or the world’s longest month. Whatever you want to call it, it can be very hard to get through and beat the January blues. It seems like it was at least 4 years since you were last paid. The fridge is beginning to think you’re only ever putting leftovers in it from now on, there are still rogue beer and half drunk spirit bottles tucked away in the kitchen and the mince pies haven’t even been started yet.
Two weeks in to January and Christmas feels like it was months ago. Yet we’re still asking “Did you have a nice Christmas & New Year?” to people we meet.
Let’s not forget that it’s a month when most people set outlandish resolutions and try to go from 0-100 in health and fitness which means they are set up to fail.
We want to be good and do better, but also it’s still dark and cold out and going back to work is tiring and all we want to do is sit in our pjs and nap.
So, how do we beat the January blues effectively but without making crazy statements like “I’m never drinking again”, “No more junk food for me this month” or “I’m going to the gym every day for the next 4 weeks”?
I have been doing the below 10 things to help me beat the January blues and it’s working out for me quite nicely. Many of which can be achieved together (which is always nice to get an surprise double whammy of success crossed off the list!)
1 – Sundays are wind down/ relaxing days
Sundays can be quite hateful, anxious and depressive for many people. The thought of work the next day, the weekend over, having to set the alarm can bring on what most people know as the ‘Sunday night blues‘.
I’ve often tried actively not do much on Sundays, but the past couple of weeks I have been extra vigilant to make it a complete wind down day.
The only things I want to do on Sundays now, is anything that makes me calm and relaxed. This will differ for everyone of course, but for me that means staying in my Pjs, with the blanket on the Sofa. Naps will be interrupted by bouts of movie watching, playing my Switch and/or reading IT. Oh, and to eat. Obviously!
I will make an excursion outside to fulfil my daily Pokemon Go tasks, but unless I’m feeling particularly adventurous on the day I won’t be wandering far!
Being so conscious of doing this the past couple of weeks has been really helpful to my mental state in preparing for Monday. I feel calmer throughout the day. My day wasn’t spent doing things I felt I ought to. I feel productive by spending the day doing what I have felt like with no pressures or expectations.
As I said before, not everyone will have the same ideal Sunday as me, but it is important to do whatever it is that helps you wind down and remain calm and relaxed throughout the day. This may be going to the pub for a pint or out for a meal, taking the dogs on an extra long walk, baking or cooking something that you love, sorting out your wardrobe, doing absolute sod-all, playing games, having family time or making sure you have quiet time.
Every person’s relaxing time is different to the next so just make it about you. I can assure you the acceptance of having this dedicated day to do what you want is just a glorious thing!
2 – Doing 1 relaxing thing a day
With the hustle and bustle of getting schedules and routines back to ‘normal’ everything in January always seems so hectic and panicked.
It is important to take a step back and have a breather every day. You may think “Where on earth do you think I’m getting this time from, Sunny-Jim-me-laddo, huh? HUH!” But fear not! It’s not as time consuming as you may think.
10 mins a day you can find either first thing, just before bed, when you’re in the shower, walking to the shop, or even on the toilet! There are plenty of times throughout the day when this is possible, even if it’s not all at once, you just need to be aware.
The relaxing thing can be something like telling yourself that for those few minutes you refuse for anything negative to enter your brain. If an anxious or depressive thought enters your brain, tell it “NO! This is my 2 or 3 minutes – Let me have my short lived happiness”.
Granted if you do this out loud, others in your house may start to question who you are talking to, so, an internal telling off may be advised. But, whatever works for you 🙂
Those thoughts will be there afterwards, sure, but for those few minutes allow your self the glory and satisfaction of indulging in thinking about calming happy thoughts. It could be a memory that makes you smile, a person or a joke. Maybe listening to a song, watching a YouTube video or looking at cat memes on Instagram.
Perhaps even silence, or taking deep breaths, if meditation or mindfulness is your thing. Maybe it’s listening to your child babble on about their chosen future career as a Ninja for the 14th time that day, but just enjoying their enthusiasm and imagination this time.
Take the 10 minutes in one go, or sneak a couple of minutes here and there, but it will help with your day and mindset. It will help keep you grounded and breakup your constant day.
3 – Pay all bills / extra expenses as soon as possible
This is something I am historically bad at doing, but it is an extremely useful thing to get in to the habit of every month not just to beat the January blues.
Make note of any extra expenses that you know you’ve got. You can either pay for them straight away or put the money aside.
Buy any birthday cards and gifts early on. For nights/days out, take the cash out and put it somewhere safe until the event.
This will help reduce the cash flow worry later in the month.
4 – Eat something non christmas binge-worthy at least twice a week
Food! There is still so much food in the house! Why? HOW?! If you’re like me you feel like you’ve been eating roast dinner, bubble and squeak and left over sandwiches for an eternity.
It’s time to make a stand! Make sure twice a week you have something completely different to eat. Something you haven’t had in weeks.
Perhaps pasta, jacket potato, soup or cottage pie. Maybe even just a nice salad. Something different. Do this twice a week and it’ll make you feel like the end of the Christmas food is in sight!
5 – Do something nice for someone else once a week
Helping others is a steadfast way to feel good about yourself. It’s win:win.
There are so many ways you can help others simply but effectively. Some examples are; buying a drink for a friend, or rough sleeper, being there to listen when someone needs it, sending a card in the post, or a message on social media to a friend you haven’t spoken to in a while.
You could cook dinner, or make lunch for someone else, donating a couple of pound to a just giving or patreon page or commenting on and sharing your friends business pages.
Just doing one of these things a week will make you feel good about yourself. Not just that though, it is just a lovely thing to do and will be appreciated by the recipient too.
Try your random act of kindness and see how it goes.
Check out The Human kind project on Instagram. Emma is really inspiring in her actions and may give you some ideas too
6 – Laugh and smile every day!
This is a lot easier on some days than others. On those days when everything is going wrong; it’s Monday, customers have their best self entitled hats on, public transport is late, the weather is rubbish, and you slept like crap, this is when it is important.
No one wants to be unhappy or a mardy bum, it doesn’t feel good. When you don’t feel like laughing, a smile is just as important. Look at happy old photos, puppy gifs, your favourite comedy song or video clip.
That moment of smile or laughter is there to remind you that there is always something that makes you happy. There is light within the darkness, you can feel happiness in your darkest days.
7 – Leave wallet at home at least once a week
Those impulse purchases all add up. For me it’s wandering around on my lunch break (playing Pokemon Go, obviously), wandering in and out of shops and buying stuff I don’t need. Not expensive purchases, but a bottle of drink, or a greggs, or something from a charity shop.
It’s all £1 here and £3 there and before you know it I’ve spent about £10-15 that week just to pass a bit of time because of an impulse.
So, I have started to make a stand, and this one I want to also carry over in to the following months too. Remember, a good routine is a good routine for life, not just to beat the January blues!
One day a week (at least!) I will leave my wallet at home. This will make sure I’ve packed up enough lunch, and don’t need to pick anything up from the shop on way home.
A small saving is still a saving, and as most of my impulse buys are in consumables, its probably good health wise too!
8 – Indulge in hobby binges
EMBRACE THE CRAPPY WEATHER! It ain’t going anywhere anytime soon, do something great with it. The cold, dark, short days doesn’t exactly make anyone want to sit out in the garden and socialise with all and sundry.
It’s the perfect season, and month, to catch up on those TV series and films you’ve not yet seen. Or playing some video games, knitting or reading. Get settled on the sofa and lose a few hours a night on your hobby.
You’ll get progress in your hobby and while away a few hours of groggy weather. This is a perfect way to beat the January blues as you’re doing something you already enjoy.
9 – Have something to focus on
While on the subject of hobbies, you can use that as a focal point to get through the January blues.
I’m using this blog as something to focus on. Making one post a week and learning about blogging helps keeps my interest. It’s something I don’t have be doing all the time, but can think about often.
This is not a new years resolution, just a goal you’d like to work toward to keep your mind occupied.
It’s not even about completing the goal, it’s about having something to focus on. If you’d like to lose a little weight, don’t set it on losing a specific number. Set the goal as to be a little healthier. You’ll focus on what you’re eating and drinking and exercise and not the number at the end.
Before you know it, you’re consuming better things each day, and becoming healthier.
If you’ve got a lot of seasons of a TV series to watch or a game to play, don’t set the goal to finish it, set it just to watch/play as much as possible.
Your mind is focussed on the action not on the goal. Therefore no matter how little you do of it, you’re still further than you were before. It’s still progress and your mind has had welcomed distractions.
10 – Try something new
And finally, the 10th thing to help beat the Winter blues is to try something new.
This also links in with the number 9, giving your brain something to focus on. Another purpose of it is for variety and to keep things interesting for you.
If you go to the gym, try a different exercise machine. Maybe try listening to a new podcast, attempting yoga or a new language. Perhaps you want to try some new relaxation techniques or self care affirmations.
Something else that could be motivating and exciting is finding new music you love. I’ve often got sucked in to a Spotify rabbit hole doing this. Best way to do this is to select a band or song you love and then just select some bands on their ‘Related artists’ options.
You don’t have to do them all! These aren’t new years resolutions they are suggestions to to show that you can make it through this month positively with little effort.
If you are still daunted by any of the above try putting it in your own perspective. Pick up a book that you’ve had lying around your house for years and you’ve never read. Spend an hour reading it one Sunday. Just by this act alone you have now ticked off numbers 1, 2, 8, 9 & 10. If you read the book quicker than you thought, or don’t like it, give it to someone else. You’ve then crossed off number 5 too.
I am actively trying to do these all throughout the month, but even if you concentrate on one or two, you’ll be surprised how easy they are to achieve.
Don’t forget to let me know if you’re going to try any of these or if you have your own plans to beat the January blues and if you’ve anything in mind for them.
Happy January everyone and stay strong. You can make it through each day, I believe in you.
Love, Ray x
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