January is a tough time for a lot of folk, especially us up here in the northern hemisphere. Though the winter solstice was over a month ago, the days don’t seem to be getting any lighter. Our vitamin D levels are dwindling and our skin is pasty and dry. It’s cold and miserable outside. All anybody wants to do is stay indoors, watch Netflix and eat all the stodge you can get your mitts on. But you can’t because you overindulged over the festive season and the new year diet does not allow stodge to pass your lips. The post Christmas comedown is well underway. You spent a lot of your hard earned cash before Christmas and now your wallet is looking a lot lighter than you would like. There’s no extra cash to treat yourself to something nice to make yourself feel better and it’s still over a week until the next payday. There’s not a lot on the horizon to look forward to in the imminent future. It’s a pretty bleak outlook for the remainder of the month. I think this is a familiar story for a lot of people, year in, year out. So it figures that today marks ‘Blue Monday’ officially the most depressing day of the year.
I’m realising that in the UK where I live it is almost the end of ‘Blue Monday,’ however I hope this post will help you in some way if you are suffering with what is commonly known as the ‘January Blues.’ January is a tough month for so many people and feeling a little down is kind of inevitable for a lot of people. The start of the new calendar year is always a time for new resolutions, self improvement, planning your year ahead. When your energy levels are in their winter ebb it can seem overwhelming to say the least.
I decided against making any resolutions this year. It always seems like too much pressure and I am all about keeping life simple and as stress free as possible. What I have done however, is taken stock of my situation. Since last January my life has transformed completely. Last year I was in a really terrible place in my head. I’d moved to a new area where I had no connections, I hated my job, I was struggling to make friends, I had no transport and I was wholly aware that my ex felt like I was not the one for her. I cried a lot last January and I certainly had a huge case of the January blues. I was prescribed anti depressants for the first time in my life.
Looking back, it is so blindingly obvious to me that I did not need medication. What I needed was love, support, friends and community. Nothing in my situation was working for me and I really needed to talk to somebody about it. I eventually did open up to my close friends and it was so scary because I am the absolute worst at talking about my feelings. It really helped me. If you too find yourself in a situation that sucks I strongly urge you to speak to somebody. You know the saying, ‘A problem shared is a problem halved,’ well, the older I get the more I believe that to be true. Speak to somebody you trust and don’t be afraid to feel vulnerable. It’s really OK to cry down the phone to your friends and family, I promise. For a long time last year I honestly thought I would never feel true happiness ever again. Fast forward a year however…
It’s now January 2019 and I can honestly say that I am so happy with the life that I have created for myself. I still live in the same, beautiful part of Wales that I moved to. I absolutely love living here. Life seems much simpler here. There are so many great places to explore that are so close to my home. I share a beautiful, warm house with a wonderful couple that I am happy to call my friends and not just my housemates. I have found a job that I love and feel valued in. I feel so welcomed into the community here and I really feel like I have found my home. I smile so much every day because I really appreciate everything that I have.
So this post isn’t meant to be all about me.. I want to share with you some tips that really helped me when I was depressed.
- ‘This time will pass’ – this was a mantra that helped me so much. All feelings are temporary and I found it really helpful to focus on that. Though it may feel like it, I promise you will not feel like this forever. All feelings do eventually pass.
- Acknowledge your feelings and accept them – feelings cannot be defined as ‘good’ or ‘bad.’ Feelings are all there to tell us something. In my experience depression is there to tell me that my situation is not healthy or not working for me. Anxiety tells me that I really care about something because otherwise I wouldn’t care about it so much.
- Speak to somebody – I have said it before and I am saying it again. Please tell somebody how you are feeling. If you don’t feel that there is anybody in your life that you would like to share your feelings with you can always call the Samaritans 24 hours a day from any phone on 116 123 (UK / Ireland).
- Speak kindly to yourself – listen to the murmurings in your head. Does your internal voice tells you things that you would not dream of saying to somebody that you love and respect? We are often our own harshest critics. It really takes a lot of work but if your internal voice is not one of love and self assurance you need to catch your thoughts and change them into something kinder.
- Give yourself a break – if you wake up in the morning and all you want to do is stay indoors in your pj’s all day do not beat yourself up about it. If you’re feeling down chances are your energy levels will be depleted too. Don’t waste your precious energy making yourself feel bad.
- Celebrate the small achievements in life – you brushed your teeth today, you got out of bed today, you plucked up the courage to call a friend today. You’re doing a great job 🙂
- Put some vitamins into your body – if you’re feeling low, food may not be high on your list of priorities. You might not be getting all of the nutrition your body needs to feel well. If you can take a multivitamin every day you will be doing a huge service to your body. It may not seem appealing but eating some fruits and veggies will ensure you are getting the fibre and vitamins that your digestive system needs in order to work well.
- Speak to your doctor – if you’re really feeling down medication can help to pep you up and get you going again. Lots of doctors are now able to offer counselling and other therapies too.
- Get some fresh air – walking can do wonders for our mood. If you feel up to it bundle yourself up in your big winter coat and have a walk around your neighbourhood. Or sit in the garden and get some fresh air into your lungs.
- Speak to somebody – I just wanted to make sure you got that!
If you’re feeling like you’re smashing January and none of the above applies to you – amazing! Continue living your best life and remember to show kindness to others. Mental health is not something you can see so it’s not always obvious if somebody is having a hard time. A person may be laying on a beach in Bali but if there is a thunderstorm going on inside their head they will not feel like they are in paradise. Remember what your grandmother always told you, ‘Treat others as you wish to be treated.’
Questions for you…
- What small achievement are you celebrating today?
- What are your methods for beating the January blues?
- Does 2019 look a lot different than 2018 for you too? What has changed?
Be kind to yourself,