10 ways to beat the January blues

This time of year can be hard for many of us. The darker days, drizzly weather and the thought of to do lists back at work can be a real buzz kill. I know I really struggle with the first week of January, the weight of expectation and high standards for projects and work to come combined with the lack of routine and purpose from the holidays leaves me finding it hard to find direction and questioning my life choices (existential pit of doom anyone?!) However there are some really simple things that I use to combat this. Sometimes they seem too banal and trivial to make any difference, but just pushing the dial even a smidge seems to get me back on track.

Here are 10 ways to help overcome the January blues:

  1. Set realistic goals
    • Set some really achievable and realistic goals. For me this includes trying to be mindful of delight or fun every day. If you have a big goal like a work achievement, or travelling, break it down into easy steps to help realise your goal.
  2. Create a positive routine
    • Having a positive routine every day really helps to keep me focussed. I’d recommend checking out ‘Atomic Habits‘ by James Clear for ways you can build a simple but motivating routine, for example I start every day by doing a plank for 1 min+, weight myself and make a cup of tea before getting on with my morning to do list.
  3. Get moving
    • We all know that moving is the key to health and wellness, but at this time of year it can be really difficult to motivate ourselves to get out there. I find creating a goal helps to motivate me for this, like having a coffee with friends after the gym, or meeting up with a friend for a walk. Getting 6000-10,000 steps a day is great for your mood and reduces stress so this should really be number one on the list!
  4. Prioritise yourself
    • I think the term self-care is overused, and can seem like something that’s only available to those that have the time and money for it. For me, this is creating daily routines and boundaries that for the most part help me from tipping over into burnout. The best part about these ‘self-care’ techniques is they are FREE!
  5. Plan something to look forward to
    • It’s no coincidence that the Saturday after Christmas is called Sunshine Saturday. The dark days spur many of us on the book summer holidays, and a good thing it is too! Having something to look forward gives focus and helps to make the chasm of time that is the unfolding year seem far more manageable.
  6. Connect with others
    • I am evangelical about the benefits of spending time with people. We live in a world where we are all so ‘connected’ and yet loneliness is one of the biggest public health issues of our age with over 7.83 million people in the UK identifying as having chronic loneliness. It really is worth finding people that get you and support you.
  7. Bring light in
    • As soon as you wake up in the morning or it gets light, try and look at the sky for a minute or so. This helps your circadian rhythm and hopefully will help slough off tiredness. It’s also worth opening all curtains and blinds, and even using a SAD lamp on particularly dull days. Bring that light in!
  8. Try something new
    • This could be as simple as having a spring clean and rearranging the house, or budget allowing, trying a new hobby or sport. I really got back into tennis last year, and I’d totally recommend giving it a go for some stress relief!
  9. Reflect and reset
    • It’s really important to look back as a way to understand what things you are not going to repeat this year. I know that if I book too many work events and meetings into my weeks it is utterly unsustainable and leaves me no time to actually DO anything. This is something I am hoping to keep on top of this year, and set some boundaries around meeting overload! I also like to look back through my photos, partly to save any that are useful for work, but also to appreciate the awesome things we’ve done, and which ones I want to plan in and look forward to again this year.
  10. Practice gratitude
    • There is something about this phrase that makes me feel very ick, but there is truth in it. I think positive mental attitude isn’t a destination, it’s something you need to work on every day, and some days it just doesn’t feel like it’s possible. I definitely have a tendency to look for problems and issues, or focus one what others have that I don’t, which is such an unhelpful mindset. But, using routine, boundaries, and trying to appreciate all the things that are good in life has helped to reset my brain to look on the sunny side, most of the time. Om.

It is totally normal to feel crap at this time of year, but hopefully making some tiny adjustments may just help to get you through. Remember the days are getting a little lighter every day, and for that I am truly grateful.

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