Uplift for the January Blues

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January can be a tough month; the excitement of Christmas and New Year is behind us and the weather often dull and cold. If Christmas has gone well that’s great but this is a time when some families have major rows. Many people over spend. Christmas and New Year can leave some of us feeling tired, stressed and financially troubled, and the hope of Spring and the warmer summer months may seem a long way off. However, read on because January doesn’t have to be an unhappy time of year but we all need a bit of a plan.

If you are feeling ‘blue’ the best thing to do is to talk to someone who you trust. If you don’t feel able to talk, write down your troubles and feelings. Next of all, plan ways of taking good care of yourself; you are most definitely worth it. Plan time out for relaxation, exercise (dirty word for many!) and plenty of sleep and don’t tell yourself you can’t find the time because you can’t afford not to. Make sure you do some of the things you enjoy. Reading, watching movies, candle lit fragrant baths, listening to music, seeing friends; give yourself permission to do whatever appeals to you. Whenever the sun shows itself, try to get out and about so that you get your quota of vitamin D. If possible, plan a winter break; somewhere sunny. Plan to do your favourite forms of exercise; endorphins will be released and lift your mood. You may enjoy walking, swimming, cycling, Yoga or perhaps a team sport. Exercising with other people can be very sociable and, for many, better than doing it alone. Deep breathing and relaxation exercises are a good aid to sleep. Dim the lights an hour before bedtime and avoid late night thriller movies, alcohol and caffeine. Phones, i pads and other devices at bedtime will keep you awake.

January is a good time to try and resolve any relationship difficulties, especially if you’ve fallen out with a friend or family member during the holidays. Feeling sad, angry and resentful is bad for your emotional health. Talking to someone, or writing about your feelings can be therapeutic; then you need to resolve to let go of your anger and forgive. We may resist forgiveness; we may even prefer the idea of revenge. The problem with revenge is that eventually guilt is added to our anger and resentment, though we may not like to admit it, causing us to feel even worse. Forgiveness is a process that begins with the willingness to forgive. Forgiveness lifts our mood and sets us free from negative emotions, even if the person we are forgiving doesn’t reciprocate.

If you are feeling ‘blue’, try some of my suggestions for the January uplift. If this feels too difficult, or your mood doesn’t lift, you may be suffering from depression and need to talk to a doctor or a therapist. Symptoms of depression can include low mood, negative thoughts and feelings, hopelessness, despair, irritability, apathy, early waking, feeling unable to cope with the day, procrastination, loss of libido and difficulty with concentration. Asking for help is a sign of strength not weakness; because it takes courage and determination.

Some people suffer from a form of depression called Seasonal Affective Disorder. SAD starts any time from about September onwards and suddenly disappears in the Spring. It typically affects people living in parts of the world with shorter daylight hours and lower levels of bright daylight. It is therefore most prevalent in Northern Europe, North America, Northern Asia and southern parts of Australia and South America. Doctors recommend light therapy, received from exposure to a special Light Box, combined with SSRI anti-depressants. Light therapy can take place at home and at work. It usually begins in September and is used more frequently in the Winter. Although the cause of SAD remains unknown some triggers are thought to include low levels of the hormones Serotonin and Melatonin. Sessions with a therapist can be beneficial for helping people to relax and to find ways of coping with the limitations of SAD. Sometimes other contributing factors are uncovered during therapy. A therapist can help sufferers devise strategies to make the most of any available natural light and help them to reduce their stress levels.

We can all benefit from time out to therapeutically offload our negative emotions. Taking care of ourselves is an indicator of self- respect. Rest, relaxation, enjoyable exercise and an injection of sunshine will help lift our mood and so bring about an uplift; at any time of year.

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