January 2nd, 2020

That January feeling

By Dan Whale

  • Anxiety
  • Body Dysmorphic Disorder
  • Depression
  • Life Changes

It’s not just post-festive blues, there are lots of reasons as to why January can be tricky for our mental health. Luckily, there are many different things we can do to make it more bearable, or even enjoyable

The six weeks after New Years Day are often quoted as being the least enjoyable time period of the year. We commonly put that being down to the aftermath of Christmas and New Year’s Eve - after such excitement and build-up, we are left underwhelmed feeling like there is nothing left to look forward to.

Not only this, but we are often both physically and mentally exhausted. We may have spent weeks preparing for Christmas, doing far more travelling, socialising and unhealthy eating than we would otherwise do.

But whilst the festive period is certainly a factor, it is not the only reason mood can go down in January. Below we explain why a combination of factors can make January particularly tough, and what steps can be taken to get you through it.

Cold weather and short days

As we highlight in our blog on insomnia, daylight has a big impact on the hormones our body releases. Your body receives vitamin D from the light, which contributes to the production of serotonin - the hormone relating to positive mood. Shorter days can therefore decrease overall mood, and without the festivities to distract you, you can realise how miserable British winters can be.

Poor nutrition

Spending several weeks treating yourself is great, but after a while it begins to catch up with you. There are only so many chocolate oranges one can enjoy. The link between what you eat and how you feel has been proven many times over - it’s natural that after so much treat food and perhaps less exercise, you feel rather lethargic.

It’s also natural to gain unwanted weight over Christmas, which can lead to struggles with body image in January.

Weakly-held resolutions

We often decide that from January 1st we are going to be an entirely different person. New year, new me. So many resolutions are either totally abandoned immediately or loosely stuck to, leaving us feeling down about our strength of will.

Financial issues

The festive period can be an expensive time of year, not just due to all the gifts, but the costs of travelling and increased amount of events and parties. If you’re feeling exhausted, lethargic and uninspired, then realise January will have to be a very frugal month, it only makes matters worse.

How to deal with the January feeling

If reading this cocktail of negativity is making you feel pretty glum, try and hold out for the rest! There are proven ways of fighting the January feeling.

Get outside in daylight

Chilly as it may be, getting more natural light is an easy way to boost your mood. As aforementioned, natural light contributes to the production of serotonin. Frequent winter walks, even if they’re just around the block, can do wonders.

Return to healthier eating patterns

It’s not about desperately trying to shift any weight gained over Christmas, but eating more nutritious foods and adding more structure to your diet. Swapping the sweet snacks for more regular meals will help your brain as much as your body. Read more here.

Try something new

Many describe the post-Christmas period as difficult because there is “nothing to look forward to”. After summer disappears and the excitement of the festive period is over, people feel somewhat lost. Of all problems, this is one that is somewhat easy to rectify. If there is nothing to look forward to, try something new. It doesn’t have to be extravagant or expensive - running, reading and knitting are all hobbies that cost very little but keep you occupied.

Mindfulness

Mindfulness is a great way to reduce stress and put your mind at peace. From concentrating on your breathing to focussing on your immediate surroundings, there are lots of easy techniques that can help strengthen your mental health. Find out more here.

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Whilst ‘that January feeling’ is common, it is not destined. We are able to take steps which not only improve our start to the year, but give us a good basis for the months that follow.

smiling woman in front of a blue wall

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