Today, it’s Blue Monday or in other words, this is known as the most depressing day of the year.
Experts say the reason January is so depressing is due to the weather and the state of our personal finances – after all December tends to be the most expensive month with Christmas and New Year and well, if you’re in the UK, January brings with it rain, wind, and even more importantly, a lack of sunlight.
January is also the primary month of the year in which people experience Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). This is a mood disorder that occurs when the seasons change over. According to BUPA health, it can affect around 3 in every 100 people across the UK.
So, if you’re feeling a little overwhelmed or depressed this time of year, here are some ideas to tackle the January blues:
1. Spend Time Outdoors – In Rain or Shine
Even if it’s just for ten minutes, spending time outdoors is proven to boost our mood. Our brains are wired to love being in sunlight to help us form natural sleep cycles.
Even in the UK’s cold winter climate, there are plenty of benefits to being outside, for example, the fresh, crisp air can help to make us feel more awake. So, wrap up warm and take a gentle stroll or run every day.
2. Invest Your Time in New Hobbies
Sure, lockdown is preventing us from getting out and meeting new people but staying in your comfort zone can impact your mental health and stop development and growth.
From learning photography, painting, baking, or drumming, it’s time to stop with the “I wish I could do that” and make it a reality! Even if you’re in lockdown, filling your time with new challenges and activities will help to keep your mind active so you’ll be less likely to feel down.
3. Take a Break from Alcohol
Alcohol is a depressant and can in fact worsen the feelings you may already have going on. For some people, alcohol is used as a form of self-medication to provide some welcome relief from feeling down but the temporary “mood boost” won’t be permanent.
Alcohol affects the neural transmitters in the brain which can result in those negative feelings returning once the alcohol buzz has worn off. Some studies have shown that drinking regularly can increase levels of stress and anxiety and make issues harder to deal with in the long run.
4. Plan Something to Look Forward Too
That butterfly feeling in your stomach when you’ve got some exciting upcoming plans is unbeatable and can fill our daily lives with a sense of purpose and excitement – plus it can boost your endorphin levels.
So, booking a holiday with your partner or planning a road trip with your friends, whatever makes you happy be sure to schedule it into your 2021 calendar.
5. Make Yourself into a Priority
It’s important to remember that you still need to take care of you, even if you’re snowed under at work or bored out of your mind on furlough. In fact, doing the things you love to do is incredibly important for your mental wellbeing.
January doesn’t have to be all gloom (even if the bad weather is making it feel that way). Remember to commit some extra time to yourself each day and treat yourself to everything that makes you happy – whether it’s food, good movies, watching sport or giving yourself a pamper session. Just relax and enjoy it. You deserve it.
Resources for Mental Health Charities & Organisations
If you do feel like you are struggling and need some help, advice or support, here are a number of free resources you can use across the UK:
CALM (Campaign Against Living Miserably)
CALM is a charity for men aged 15 – 35
Phone number: 0800 585 858 (open 7 days a week 5pm to midnight)
A charity that promotes the needs of people who suffer from mental health issues
Phone: 0300 123 3393 (Monday-Friday 9am to 6pm)
Confidential support for anyone feeling distressed or in despair
Phone: 116 123 (free 24-hour helpline)
SANEline is a national out of hours mental health helpline offering specialist support
Phone: 07984 967 708 (Sunday – Friday 2pm to 11pm) – Here you can leave a message with your name and contact number and a professional will call you back as soon as possible
Switchboard can offer support to LGBT+ people and can offer mental health support regarding any issue, with nothing off-limits.
Phone: 0300 330 0530 (10am – 10pm 7 days a week)
Support if your child is suffering from mental health issues
Phone: 0808 802 5544 (Monday to Friday 9.30am to 4pm)