For many of us, January can be the hardest (and seemingly the longest) month of the year. With the weather often being miserable, the festive period coming to an end, work beginning again and watching people talk about their ‘Dry January’ attempts and New Year Resolutions… it can all get a little crazy and overwhelming.
If you have had a busy Christmas and New Year with friends and family, sometimes January can feel a little lonely. While some of us may welcome the peace and quiet, others may be finding it hard to readjust to going back to being alone and having to face reality again.
However you may be feeling, please remember that how you feel is completely valid, even if others are not feeling the same way as you.
Tips to Cope:
– Deep breathing and/or meditation: sometimes we all need to take a step back and take a deep breath before facing whatever it is that we need to be doing. It is important that we do take time out to focus on ourselves when things become a little bit too much. Simply taking 5-6 slow deep breaths can help to improve your mood and bring you some calm.
By taking these deep breaths, your breathing and you heart rate align with each other and send a signal to your brain to release happy hormones such as serotonin, oxytocin, dopamine and endorphins. Each of these hormones bring a sense of calm and balance to you body and mind.
– Getting enough natural light: Exposure to natural light provides us with vitamin D and can help to improve sleep patterns, focus and overall mood. Therefore it is important to try and get as much sunlight as possible, even in the cold winter months. So open up your curtains, sit yourself next to the window, go for walks and get as much sunlight as you can!
– Try something new: January is the perfect time for you to try new things. Whether it be picking up a new hobby, joining a new social group or booking an activity that you have never done before… you never know, you might find something you really enjoy! These could be done alone or with a friend.
– Social media detox and/or cleanse: Social media can often be overrun with unrealistic goals and expectations and can sometimes leave us feeling deflated. It can become difficult to appreciate what you have right in front of you, always making you feel like your life needs something more. Taking a step away from social media can help us to appreciate our lives a little bit more and focus on what is truly important to us.
When you return to social media, try and have a clear out… delete those followers who have a negative impact on you, the ones who make you feel bad about yourself and your life, delete the people that you no longer talk to… they do not need to have insight into your life anymore and vice versa. It is time to make social media personal again – use it to stay connected to friends and family.
– Get things in your diary! Make plans ahead of time, give yourself something to look forward too. They do not need to be big expensive things, they could be small things such as a coffee date with a friend, going on a day out or a walk, visit an old friend and much more.
– Exercise and nutrition: No, I am not saying you need to become a gym addict or jump onto the next fad diet… but basic exercise and a balanced diet, as well as staying hydrated can have a very big impact on both your mental and physical health.
Going for walks, eating a balanced diet and drinking 2 litres of water a day can boost your energy levels significantly… and you do not need to spend a fortune or hours and hours out of your day to do it. This is something I once struggled greatly with… and now, I actually look forward to making new foods and going to the gym… and, in just over a month, I feel like a new person!
– Practice gratitude: We often do forget about the many things that we have in our lives that we should be thankful for… especially the little things! Try to jot down 3 things that you feel thankful for at the end of each day… or at the end of the week at least! This can help you to gain a new perspective on the things and the people that you have in your life and can then boost your overall mood and outlook on life. Try to express gratitude towards people more too… friends, family and even strangers! Say thank you and show appreciation to the people who do things for you, no matter how small.
– Reaching out if you need help: This is a very important one. There is no shame in reaching out to a loved one or a medical professional if you are finding things hard. We are now in 2024 – let’s normalise talking about our mental health.
This works both ways! If you see someone who you think is struggling, or you know that they are going through a hard time, reach out to them, ask them how you can help and offer to support them in the best way that you can… a little bit of love goes a very long way.