January, the month of cold weather, dark mornings and (possibly) failing in our New Year’s resolutions collides to create ‘January Blues’. Typically, January Blues manifests itself as feelings of low mood, sadness, lack of motivation, tiredness and low energy.
We now have a somewhat defined “most depressing day of the year”, which is said to fall on the third Monday of January, known as Blue Monday. It is about the time that the excitement and motivation for our resolutions fade, we’ve gone back to work, and the weather is still dark and cold (without the excitement of Christmas).
In fact, The Samaritans have stated that 20% of people experience depression at this time of year. This is in comparison to 4.5% of people who experience depression in the UK at any other time, according to the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence.
Most January’s we find ourselves on some kind of health kick, or attempting to save money, or even to find a new job. We often start the month with excitement and energy to get these tasks done and cement these new habits, but a few weeks in, we still haven’t seen any progress, and yet the hard work continues.
We might find ourselves wondering; “What is the point in going to the gym so often, I’m not feeling any fitter?” or “I haven’t been anywhere in weeks and yet my bank account looks no different!” We are making sacrifices, but can’t yet see the reward, and many of us give up.
Often, we are left feeling annoyed and upset that we have, yet again, given up our new year’s resolutions. This also acts to support a limiting belief we might hold about ourselves; “I always give up” or “I can never change.”
Top tips to beat the January blues
- Make the most of the daylight – being outdoors in the sunlight can make you feel better and give you more energy. Exposure to natural light increases the levels of serotonin in the brain, which is associated with improved mood.
- Exercise – One of the best ways to improve wellbeing and mood is to get some exercise. A brisk walk with friends or your pet dog can be a great way to get some fresh air and release endorphins which will make you feel better.
- Eat healthily – What we put in our bodies can make a huge difference to our mood. When feeling down, you’re more likely to eat junk food and either eat too much or too little. Having a varied, balanced diet can improve your mood.
- Sleep – Poor sleep can have a negative impact on your mental health and lead to you feeling irritable, anxious and worried.
- Identify your concerns – Try and identify what it is that is making you feel anxious or sad. Remember, there is nothing wrong with asking for help. Sharing how you are feeling with family, friends or somebody you trust can often be the first step towards making things better.
- Read a good book – Reading for pleasure is a great way to take your mind off how you’re feeling and is a great distraction..
- Be kind to yourself -Many people set unrealistic New Year resolutions and then feel a sense of deflation and failure when they can’t keep them. Remember to slow down and make some time for yourself.
- Learn something new – Do something new. Sign up for that course. Take on a new responsibility. Learn a new recipe or how to play an instrument. Set a goal. Learning something new can be fun, make you feel good and build your confidence.
- Quit Smoking – When people stop smoking, studies show: anxiety, depression and stress levels are lower. Quality of life and positive mood improve. The dosage of some medicines used to treat mental health problems can be reduced.
Stopping smoking can be as effective as antidepressants
People with mental health problems are likely to feel much calmer and more positive, and have a better quality of life, after giving up smoking.
Evidence suggests the beneficial effect of stopping smoking on symptoms of anxiety and depression can equal that of taking antidepressants.
In recent years, e-cigarettes have become a very popular stop smoking aid in the UK.
Also known as vapes or e-cigs, they’re far less harmful than cigarettes, and can help you quit smoking for good.
They are not recommended for non-smokers and cannot be sold to people under 18 years old.
Many thousands of people in the UK have already stopped smoking with the help of an e-cigarette. There’s evidence that they can be effective.
A 2021 review found people who used e-cigarettes to quit smoking, as well as having expert face-to-face support, can be up to twice as likely to succeed as people who used other nicotine replacement products, such as patches or gum.
Using an e-cigarette can help you manage your nicotine cravings. To get the best out of it, make sure you’re using it as much as you need to and with the right strength of nicotine in your e-liquid.
You will not get the full benefit from vaping unless you stop smoking cigarettes completely.
What about risks from nicotine?
While nicotine is the addictive substance in cigarettes, most of the harm from smoking comes from the thousands of other chemicals in tobacco smoke, many of which are toxic.
Nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) has been widely used for many years to help people stop smoking and is a safe treatment.
National Debt Line (national debt charity) 08088084000
StepChange (national debt charity)
Mental Health Support
MIND (national mental health charity)
YoungMinds are a mental health charity for children, young people and their parents, making sure all young people can get the mental health support.
Samaritans –Call 116 123 any time day or night or email email@example.com
Shout – Free 24/7 Mental Health Text Support – Text ‘SHOUT’ to 85258
Quit Smoking Services