While every year ends with festive cheer and anticipation for the future, as the new year rolls in it’s sometimes difficult to keep the energy and optimism up. After all, you’ve spent the last few months getting ready for the holiday celebrations, you’ve been busy spreading cheer and so has everyone else. Now that those celebrations are over and done with, there’s an apparent shift in mood, not only for you but for those around you. Where are the sparkling lights and busy streets? Where is the cheer or anticipation and what plans do you have for the next few weeks?
This distinct change can have an enormous impact on our mental states, even if we don’t notice it in a big way at first. As January continues and as we continue to survive the cold winter, the lack of light will surely become more obvious, the weather may not seem quite as cosy and many of us have already spent our hard-earned wages. Even worse, those pesky New Year’s resolutions may not be holding up as well as we intended – mostly because there’s still all those leftover chocolates and sweets from the holidays.
This is probably not news to you. Alas, this happens every year and has such an impact that psychologist Cliff Arnall managed to come up with an equation which features weather, time since Christmas, New Year’s resolutions and motivational levels to work out when the most depressing day of the year will be. This dreaded day is widely referred to as Blue Monday and typically falls on the first day of the third week in January. In 2018, Blue Monday falls on January 15, when the weight of the weather, debt, work and lack of anticipation will lead to sadness and low motivation.
It’s only natural to let these factors get to you. After all, you’re only human! Still, we don’t have to wallow in the January blues as we would always prefer to work towards happiness than stay sad, surely? So, today I thought I’d share some of the ways you can make January and especially Blue Monday way more fun. By eating right, staying on the move, socialising and committing to a few other life changes you’ll be right back in the best mood in no time.
1. Eat Right to Feel Bright
Throughout the holidays we are incredibly self-indulgent, especially when it comes to food. Just take a second to think about how happy and well fed you were, with turkey, mashed potatoes, chocolates, trifles and so much more. Man, that was a good time, huh?
Now though, we’re in January: The time of year associated with eating barely anything to meet New Year’s resolutions or simply because we don’t have the funds to keep eating like it’s Christmas. Well, we suggest an alternative view on January. Instead of eating to feed your body like we do during December, how about you eat for your soul and mind?
Yes, this does mean not eating everything in your selection box and instead eating healthy, mood-boosting foods. These include anything rich in vitamins and omega 3, such as fish, nuts, seeds, egg yolks, fruit and plenty of other tasty alternatives to chocolate. As for how much you eat, there’s no need to reign it in. Instead, have structured meal times that include breakfast, as this will not only set you up for a good day but will even help you lose weight. Don’t deprive yourself of everything you enjoy about the end of the year; if you are hungry, eat! Just try to eat foods that will help you towards your goals and a happier life.
2. Keep Moving
Urgh, you knew it was coming! Exercise is probably the last word you want to hear right now if you’re feeling down but it really does help you feel better in the long run. Plus, if you think about the time leading up to Christmas, how busy were you? Were you constantly on the move, always shopping or visiting people you love? If you think about it I bet you’ll find you were actually quite active during those last few weeks.
Keep up that pace by doing just 30 minutes of activity each day – that’s all you need to turn that frown upside down. Find an exercise video you enjoy on YouTube, go for a brisk walk, maybe do some chores you’ve been putting off since Christmas or if you’re really dedicated you could join a local club. These days it’s incredibly easy to find a group of local, like-minded people just by checking out social media or perhaps even the local council website. By doing this you may do more than become more cheerful, you might even make some new friends.
3. Don’t Stop Spending Time With Loved Ones
Speaking of friends, chances are that since Christmas came to an end you’ve been a little less social. This makes sense as you’ve spent ages with friends and family over the Christmas season, and now it’s time to recalibrate a bit and spend time by yourself. This is absolutely healthy and we couldn’t support it more, but don’t let those bonds made during Christmas wain. Like The Muppets say: wherever you find love, it feels like Christmas.
There are absolutely loads of studies that link happiness and a healthy mind to making and maintaining health relationships. If you’ve ever played The Sims you’ll know that human beings – even pixelated ones – can’t go long without socialising. We also can’t get out of a pool if there are no ladders. Truth. So, instead of being sad and poor on your own, organise some cheap and cheerful outings with your mates or visit them on a regular basis. Invite them for coffee, go to a local free event or just call them on the phone – it’s easy.
4. Don’t Skip Sleep OR Overdo It
Now be honest, did you mess up your sleeping pattern just a little during the holiday season? Maybe one too many late nights or midday naps that have now left you feeling tired at random times of the day? No judgement, we’ve all been there, but now it’s time to sort it out so you can a good night’s sleep every night.
If you have a messed up sleep pattern, there’s a huge chance that it is impacting your mood and mind significantly. So, make sure you really try to fix it before it gets any more irregular. Go to bed at a reasonable hour that allows you to get about seven or eight hours of sleep per night, and commit yourself to getting up to start the day at an appropriate hour. Remember that having too much sleep can also make you feel lethargic and won’t boost your mood at all – how can you have the best January of your life if you’re asleep?
5. Keep the Fun Alive
Compared to the festive fun of December, January is somewhat lacking in the entertainment department. Or at least, it is if you don’t start making your own fun! Remember all of those hobbies you had before Christmas when you were too busy to partake in them? They’re still there, you just have to pick them up again.
If you’re looking for some quick, simple fun then chances are you’ll find what you’re looking for on the internet. Try logging into Bloglovin’ to find a new blog if you love reading what others have to say, or jump on the Amazon Kindle store or Audible to get into a new book. If online games are your thing, there are literally thousands of sites that have existed for years packed full of games to play for free. If you’re on the hunt for something new, you could try playing card games for BTC (bitcoin) at sites like Vegas Casino, where you’ll find everything a brick-and-mortar casino has to offer without having to get out of your pyjamas. Finally, if you want to be entertained with minimal effort, streaming services like YouTube and Netflix will never let you down.
6. Plan Your Next Adventure
While you may not have all the money in the world to be spending on fancy holidays and adventures right now, there’s no reason you can’t start planning for the future. In fact, it’s a highly recommended practice according to numerous psychologists. In fact, MindMovers Psychology’s clinical director Jamie Bloch told the Daily Mail earlier this month that ensuring you have something to look forward to is crucial to offsetting any bad moods you may be having.
“Research into how we experience pleasure and joy has found that the anticipation of something can elicit similar levels of positive emotions as the actual experience,” she told FEMAIL. That’s a good enough reason to start a holiday Pinterest board! You don’t necessarily have to put down any money or start making solid plans, but knowing that you’ll be jetting off in the future once your funds roll back in should be enough to keep you happy throughout January.
7. Spread the Joy
Like we mentioned in the intro, chances are everybody is feeling just as funky as you are. In a bad way, January is not the prime disco-dancing month. Instead of keeping to yourself, or worse spreading the bad mood around the place like depressing word confetti, make an effort to spread joy and kindness. Rather than focusing on the sadness within yourself, try to pay attention to those around you, and cheer them up if you can!
If you don’t really feel like spreading joy around the office – we all have our reasons – another good option is to do some volunteer work or simply do a small act of kindness every day. You could spend a Saturday afternoon helping out at a soup kitchen, or buy someone less fortunate than you a sandwich and a cup of coffee. Heck, you could just smile at someone who is looking down. Whatever it is you choose to do, we guarantee it will make you feel better about life as a whole.
8. Sort Out Your Finances
Finally, we have perhaps the most challenging January Blues-busting idea of all – sorting out your finances. I’ve mentioned a couple of times that you may be somewhat poor right about now, so it makes sense to take some time to get organised. Really, this idea is two mood-boosting activities in one, as the planning itself will make you feel more secure and like you have at least some control over your life.
Everyone overspends during the holidays, so don’t panic if you think you’ve messed everything up and remember that you are absolutely not alone. By delving into your financial situation you’ll be able to fix any problems that you come across before anything gets too serious. Plus, you can humble-brag about how organised and on it you are this year and move forward feeling far more prepared for the rest of 2018.
There you have it! Eight ideas you can try this January to ward off any negative feelings that may be rising since the holiday season ceased. Always remember that it is entirely natural to feel down, especially when there’s been such a dramatic attitude and atmospheric shift. Feeling down does not make you weak or weird, but what will make you truly special is making an effort to turn things around. It’s easy to be sad and far more difficult to be happy when everything is a bit rubbish.
If you have any other ideas or you want to share some of your post-Christmas stories, please leave a comment below! In fact, why not share your favourite stories from this festive season? You never know, just sharing our feelings might make us all feel a little better.