January sucks. It tends to be even colder than December and yet we have no big Christmas festivities or New Year celebrations to look forward to at its conclusion. In January it’s still dark in the morning when you leave for your job and dark when you come home. Those of us who are lucky will have a window they can stare out of at the sun – when it isn’t covered in grey clouds. With nothing to look forward to in January and the high probability that your New Year’s resolutions will all end in failure by the time the month is up it is easy to see why some people can get a bit depressed.
Now I’m not talking about full blown depression, something that can be clinically diagnosed. That’s a whole other matter which people seek help for from trained professionals. I’m talking about when you have no drive, no passion, feel sluggish and generally blah. January Blues is perhaps best identified by the fact it happens in mid- to late-January, although I wouldn’t be surprised if some people felt it into February.
A mild feeling of depression, such as what occurs when the January Blues hits, is something I do occasionally feel. After a short time I realise what it is I am feeling, perhaps thanks to reading mindfulness books and practicing meditation. But even when I realise it is happening that alone is not enough to bring me out of it. To bring yourself out of this shallow depression is a gentle process which I always begin by reminding myself that the feelings won’t last and soon I’ll be back to my normal amazing self.
The Buddhist sage Nagarjuna said, a long time ago, that:
If there is a remedy when trouble strikes, what reason is there for despondency? And if there is no help for it, what is the use of being sad? So come what may, I’ll never harm my cheery happiness of mind. Depression never brings me what I want; my virtue will be warped and marred by it.
Whilst a very “what will be will be” approach to depression it isn’t untrue. Worrying about depression, or anything in fact, won’t really help you. Recognising this is a good first step to bringing yourself out of a funk.
I’ve been thinking of a few ways to help you to get through, or simply avoid, the January Blues this year:
1. Keep busy socially. This can be difficult given that most people spend beyond their means over the Christmas period and are then left out of pocket come January. However, being social with friends and family doesn’t need to mean going out to the cinema and having a meal at some expensive restaurant. Organise a few people to come over to yours (or theirs) for one week, and then a different group of people for another week, and so on. Small groups staying in is really cheap as you can just make use of what you are already paying for. Don’t neglect going on long walks with friends too! This one doubles up as keeping up those fitness resolutions I know you all have!
2. Part of the reasoning behind the January Blues is believed to be the lack of sunlight and vitamin D. Vitamin D is important to our continued good health and keeping it topped up might be enough to break yourself free of any dismal feelings. Have a hearty breakfast each day rich in vitamin D or take supplements to prevent you from feeling blue.
3. Dieting can actually be part of the problem! As people rush headlong into their New Year resolutions of losing weight and going on a diet they may be restricting their calorie intake by too much too quickly. This can have a massive draining effect on the body and whether effective for weight loss or not, your practically guaranteed to feel a lack of energy. Ensure you are still consuming enough calories to avoid the energy slump – a deficit of around 600 calories is probably more than enough to get you started and can allow for sustainable weight loss without feeling sluggish.
4. Time to have a clear out! I recently spoke about how I had a bit of a throwing out session before Christmas so I could start the coming year fresh (read that post here). Well, if you didn’t have time to do it before Christmas this is your chance! Getting rid of old, unwanted, or plain broken items and clothes can be very cathartic and bring a sense of peace. If you have a need to have a serious tidy up after the busy festive season then I would very much recommend that too. Bring calmness and a sense of accomplishment back into your home.
5. January is the perfect time to start a new hobby or rekindle an old one. Haven’t picked up your camera in an age? Now is the time. Want to try your hand at the saxophone? What better time is there! Don’t put any pressure on yourself to make this a hobby that will stand the test of time either. Just have some fun with it and see where it takes you. Depending on what you pick, you might even be able to make a little bit of money on the side in the future and who doesn’t want that? Keeping yourself busy is really what is key here and the first steps in learning (or relearning) a new hobby can be very rewarding and prevent the January Blues from creeping in.
Those are some tips from me to you about moving on from, or completely avoiding, the January Blues. This year I’m not feeling the January Blues at all yet but we are only a handful of days in to the month. I’ll be keeping a vigilant eye on how I feel and taking preventative steps to ensure I remain healthy of mind and body.
What do you do to beat January Blues? What are your experiences of it? I am interested to hear in the comments below!
Thanks for reading,
P.S. Happy New Year everyone! Hope yours was amazing!