This Year, the January Blues Seem Turbo-Charged—Here’s How to Banish Them
Let’s face it: January is the most depressing month of the year. Just ask all those with January birthdays. Your friends are either doing Dry Jan or intense detoxes, and have spent all their money on unnecessary Secret Santa gifts. The weather is usually pretty terrible, and people are just generally less inclined to help you celebrate one more trip round the sun. But this year, the January Blues feel that much more depressing, whatever month you were born in. As Omicron spikes and Flurona rears its head, we’re back to working from home. We’re testing positive and feeling negative. Uncertainty abounds and burnout cranks up a notch as we attempt to get back up and running after the post-Christmas slump. Sound familiar? You’re not alone. There is, however, light at the end of the tunnel. We’ve asked leading mental health experts for their top tips on how to cope with the 2022 January blues in the face of, well, everything.
Gail Marra, clinical hypnotherapist and author of Health Wealth & Hypnosis
Boost your serotonin! Practise deep abdominal breathing. When you take a deep breath right down into your lower abdomen, your heart rate quickens slightly. As you exhale slowly your heart rate slows down. By focusing on taking five or six slow deep breaths, your heart rate and your breath will synchronize, signalling to your brain to release wonderful feel-good hormones like serotonin, dopamine, oxytocin and endorphins, all of which have a natural calming, balancing effect on your mind and body. Do this often during the day or any time you notice yourself losing the will to work!
Throw open your windows (if there’s a chill in the air, grab a jumper, stay warm). Keep your blinds and curtains open during the day. Get outside as often as you can during the daylight hours.
Researchers from Bristol University and University College London discovered a friendly bacteria in plant soil (Mycobacterium Vaccae) that triggers the release of serotonin. So, not only do indoor and outdoor plants look nice, but they can also alleviate symptoms of depression.
Did you know that our brains respond extremely well to rewards? Decide on the reward you’ll get upon completion of your new thing. Treat yourself with a gift, massage, movie, book… By visualizing the celebration, your reward desire will motivate you further, as you know what’s coming up upon completion.
Curl up in your favorite chair (by the window if you can!) and read what you want—particularly fiction—guilt-free. Research has shown that reading fiction helps you boost empathy, creativity and happiness. It provides you with escapism, opens your mind and reduces stress.
At times when you feel low, shift your energy by turning your brain onto gratitude. Gratitude is a powerful habit, and one that has been proven to have neural effects in the brain. Write down five things you are grateful for every day—ideally by hand, and as the last thing you do before night.
Watch out for the “go, go, go” mentality, and make time to be mindful by journaling, doodling, and meditating. These mindfulness activities help you focus on the present, and as a result, reduce stress and anxiety, boost self-esteem and improve sleep.
Taking some time during the day to reflect on our thoughts and feelings can go a long way in helping us to be more understanding and compassionate towards our experiences and ourselves. One tip I give all my clients is to keep a reflective journal where they write about their thoughts, feelings, and experiences. Alternatively, speaking to a friend or family member about it could also help to manage those January blues.
Due to shorter days and the return to working from home, we may be moving around less than usual. This can make you feel weak and lethargic and can contribute to a low mood. One tip to help manage this is exercise, which helps to release endorphins and contribute towards better mood and wellbeing.
Working from home inevitably makes us feel more isolated. We not only miss our teammates but also those ad hoc interactions that occur daily. To counter this, reach out to a different colleague each day. Book in a coffee over Zoom, or go for a walk and talk meeting. It’s guaranteed to enrich both their day and yours.
Variety is a great way to break up the humdrum of daily life, particularly when working from home. Try setting yourself a new challenge that you will enjoy undertaking. Learning new things will make you feel more confident, as well as injecting some fun into your routine.
#staysafe #stayactive #wiskii #love2022