WITH the festive period over and a long year ahead, many of us can be forgiven for feeling down at the start of 2023.
The excesses of Christmas leave a sobering hangover this time of year, it is a common feeling, but there are ways to get rid of those January blues.
What are the January blues?
Everyone goes into the New Year full of promise and best intentions.
The mornings are dark and the evenings come at you thick and fast, you seem to be spending all of your time inside.
It is believed that every year in January one day sees the perfect storm of factors contribute towards “Blue Monday“.
In 2023, that day falls on Monday, January 16, when post-Christmas blues merge with the cold dark nights and meet up with all the unpaid bills from the previous month.
Is it the same as Seasonal Affective Disorder?
The January blues differ somewhat to seasonal affective disorder (SAD).
One thing to know is that most of us suffer from feeling down at certain times, you are not any different, but if you do find the January blues starting to affect all areas of your life you could be suffering from SAD.
Most scientists believe that the problem is related to the way the body responds to daylight.
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Alison Kerry from mental health charity MIND says “with SAD, one theory is that light entering the eye causes changes in hormone levels in the body”.
She added: “In our bodies, light functions to stop the production of the sleep hormone melatonin, making us wake up.
“It’s thought that SAD sufferers are affected by shorter daylight hours in the winter. They produce higher melatonin, causing lethargy and symptoms of depression.”
The easiest thing to do in these situations is to feel that you are the only person feeling this way and isolate yourself further, but it is important to know this is a just a common human trait.
It is something we should feel comfortable in talking about, admitting to and helping each other out when we feel those January blues taking grip.
Should you feel the need to talk to somebody, The Samaritans offer an ear and advice.
How do you know you are suffering from the January blues?
Although the January blues aren’t considered a mental health disorder and don’t interfere with daily functioning, you might:
- Feel sad and like hibernating
- Lack the motivation for simple tasks
- Still able to complete major tasks such as going to work and taking care of the house
- Have trouble sleeping
- Spend far more time in bed than usual
It is normal to start to feel sluggish after the over-indulgence over Christmas and New Year, allowing yourself to spiral as the year doesn’t get off to the start you had hoped for.
When you start to feel in a rut and not wanting to leave the house, it can be easy to see no way out of this mindset.
How do you deal with January blues?
- Seek out the sun: Easier said than done in Britain while daylight is so limited but the sun is an unlimited source of vitamin D which is something our bodies crave.
- Try to adopt a regular sleep pattern: Going to bed at the same time every night and waking up at the same time every morning can help stabilize your internal clock and allow you to wake up feeling refreshed and energized instead of feeling fatigued throughout the day.
- Exercise daily: Exercise releases endorphins, which are known to improve mood and energy. Exercising at least 30 minutes each day for five days a week can improve your energy levels and mood. Exercising outdoors is even better as it allows you to breathe in the fresh air, soak up the sun and enjoy nature.
- Eat a balanced diet: In the winter, many of us crave sweets and complex carbohydrates, which can leave us feeling tired. Try to incorporate whole grains and fresh produce into your diet on a daily basis. Try eating foods that are rich in vitamin D such as fish, egg yolks, mushrooms and foods such as milk, juices and cereals that are fortified with vitamin D.
- Consider vitamin D supplements: Winter’s lack of sunlight can deplete your vitamin D stores. In turn, this can make symptoms worse. Although it is best to obtain your daily dosage of vitamin D from diet and sunlight, taking daily vitamin D supplements may be the best way to improve your mood during the winter months.