Post-Christmas is a challenging time of year. January can be a hard month for most people. Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is very real, and it affects more people than you might think.
The third Monday in January (known as Blue Monday) is also supposed to be the most depressing day of the year, which isn't surprising with factors including:
- A lack of sunlight/Vitamin D.
- Much colder weather.
- Less money due to spending it on presents and eating out.
- Failing at your New Year’s resolutions.
- Having to wait forever until payday.
It's understandable that people feel less motivation and lower mood when all these things are happening at once. For some, it can really take a toll on their mental health. It doesn't have to be this way though. Here are some of the things you can do to make the next few months a little happier.
The lack of sun
Sunlight doesn’t just supply us with Vitamin D, it also helps us to feel more awake throughout the day. A lack of light in the winter months can leave us feeling tired and more susceptible of getting SAD. Try using a lightbox as your alarm clock and consider taking Vitamin D tablets. The NHS recommend people living in Britain should supplement with Vitamin D until Summer rolls back around.
Light boxes are most effective when used in the morning. The alarm clock can be set to your usual wake time, it will then slowly start to get brighter and brighter as that time approaches. Getting a strong dose of light first thing in the morning can help improve your mood and wake you in a gentler way.
Also be sure to protect your eyes with some sunglasses if the winter sun does decide to come out.
If December is the season for giving, then January is the season for constantly transferring money from your savings to your current account. All the parties, dinners and brunch dates throughout the holidays soon make a dent in your bank balance.
Try to make a budget, and consider going on a no-buy. Get comfortable saying no to things, there will be plenty of time for Friday drinks when you’re paid in February. Or if you do go, plan a certain amount you’d like to spend (preferably get this in cash) and then leave your card behind.
Health has taken a backseat
During Christmas we often care less about getting a varied diet and we tend to exercise less, which is absolutely fine and should be enjoyed fully without guilt. Party season can involve late nights, alcohol and not a lot of veggies. Reset your system by slowly introducing some more fruit and veg. Try to get some moderate exercise once or twice a week. If you take baby steps towards more balanced health, you’ll be more likely to keep it going.
You never go outside
This is more specifically related to working hours. It can be easy to stay in the office all day and not see a second of daylight. Walking around outside, even for just a few minutes, can really help lift your mood. If you work near a park, try to walk through there. Seeing nature has been proven to be beneficial for us.
Your New Year’s resolutions are off to a rocky start
Let’s just call January a ‘tester month’ for your goals. You probably dabbled a little in making some change, that’s great! Don’t give yourself a hard time if you haven’t made all the progress you want to yet.