- Blue Monday, the most depressing day of the year, will fall on January 20th of this year.
- Many people experience a lull through the entire month of January, as a consequence of the holiday season rush.
- Stepping outside, getting your finances in order, and reaching out to others can help individuals cope with the January blues.
Blue Monday this year will fall on January 20th, exactly a couple of weeks from today. Though Blue Monday is considered to be the most depressing day of the year, many people feel a lull throughout the month of January.
Why? The post-holiday season can be a trying time for many. Some of the factors that contribute to this lull include the weather, financial stress from increased spending during the holidays, some people quickly experience the failing of some New Year’s resolutions, and some might even still be coping with stress from family.
Regardless of what causes them, the fact remains that January Blues are real, and they can seriously affect our motivation levels, our personal wellbeing, and our professional performance.
Luckily, there are proven strategies that can help individuals better cope with the January Blues, getting them out of the lull and preventing them from developing into something more serious, like Seasonal Affective Disorder and depression.
5 Strategies to Beat the January Blues
1. Step outside
We know, it’s cold out; somewhat dreary, but simply going outside, catching some daylight, and taking a deep breath of fresh air can do wonders for our mood. Human beings crave a connection with nature, it’s why a lot of organizations have embraced biophilic design; going outside, even if just for a short period of time can help us feel reinvigorated, which will improve not only our personal wellbeing, but also our work performance (which can reduce extra, unnecessary stress).
2. Get your finances in order
The holiday season is a time of giving and many people find that they spent a significant amount of money throughout the month of December. This can cause financial stress that runs into the months of January and beyond.
To prevent your financial stress from consuming you, it’s important that you get your finances in order. Go back and revisit how much you spent and then make a plan. How did you pay for those things? What are some areas that you could temporarily cut back to make ends meet or to not be on such a tight budget?
Having a plan from the start of the year will set you on the right track for a steady financial year. More importantly, you can use it as a reference for the next holiday season to prevent repeating any mistakes and unnecessary expenses.
It can be hard during this time of year to want to socialize, but it’s necessary for your wellbeing. You might want to just cuddle up in your home with blankets and watch some movies, but make an effort to meet with others at least once a week.
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Though socializing activities are often associated with increased spending, there are ways to go around this. Rather than meeting friends out for a drink or to eat out, consider staying in and cooking together, or simply get together for a game night. Keep in mind that many people are likely in the same position your are: hoping to save some money and some might even be doing Dry January.
When we feel down, we tend to alienate ourselves from others, which only worsens the situation. If you cannot muster the energy and motivation to meet others in person, consider reaching for the phone. Simply having someone to talk to can go a long way in helping you feel better.
Pro tip: if you’re a home worker, consider getting a day pass or getting a membership for a coworking space. Sometimes being around others, even if you’re not actively talking, can provide you with that sense of connection and belonging.
4. Beware of your New Year’s Resolutions!
Yes, it’s good to set some goals for yourself, but don’t let them become a source of stress or guilt. What resolutions do you have for this year? Are they realistic and attainable? Can you manage them with other aspects of your life?
You might want to become more fit, which is great! But remember that going to the gym for 2 hours every day of the week is not realistic for many and getting fit is a long-journey. Make sure you’re giving yourself small milestones that you can celebrate, otherwise you might trigger feelings of failure and feel worse.
The same goes for other types of resolutions. For example, I’d like to be able to read 2 books a month to total 24 books in 2020. However, the more I think about it, the more I know that I’ll likely end up reading less than that. So, I adjusted that goal to read at least 15 books this year.
People often make the mistake of setting huge, difficult goals. So our recommendation to you is to set smaller, yet still valuable resolutions. Spend at least one hour a day with your phone off (or simply leave it somewhere else for an hour so as not to check it constantly), aim to start bringing a packed lunch at least 2 days a week to work to improve your health and reduce your spending.
New Year’s resolutions should be a source of motivation, not stress and guilt. If you find that your resolutions are not positively contributing to your mental wellbeing, dump them.
No, we don’t mean go get a gym membership. We do mean get some movement in your life and get sweating and releasing those endorphins. It can be hard to motivate yourself in the Winter months, but exercising has been proven to help people fight depression and improve their overall mood and wellbeing. Exercising can also be a great way for you to go outside and get the benefits of connecting with nature, and – if you’re up for it – it can also be a great way to socialize.
Though you might struggle to get yourself to exercise, once you do, you’re guaranteed to feel better.
Last but not least, remember you’re not alone. And if you feel that things are getting out of control, do not be afraid to reach out for help.