The beginning of the year can sometimes be a challenging time for people. “January blues” is a social term used to denote the period after the festive seasons and the decline in mood; and in January, there is a day referred to as “Blue Monday”.
Although both terms describe the decline in mood in January, there is no scientific basis around this particular day or month (Mind, 2016). However, certain factors may likely cause a decline in low mood during this period. For instance, factors such as:
- A reduction in daylight hours - some individuals during this time may experience Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD).
- Financial worries (financial strain following Christmas).
- Returning to work after a long break.
- Lack of motivation to complete New Year Resolutions set.
- Drinking and eating habits over the holiday period may result in feeling sluggish or gaining weight.
For others, they may have experienced a challenging Christmas/New Year period before January because they were dealing with loneliness, loss or estrangement.
However, the difference between January blues and depression is that January blues tend to last a few weeks maximum because of factors mentioned above. Some people find that establishing their routines post-holiday season lifts their mood.
Things you can try to overcome 'January Blues'
- Talking to someone: Whether you are experiencing January Blues or depression, a helpful treatment for both is to discuss how you are feeling with others. If you would like to speak to a member of our team, contact us:
Keep active: Research has shown that a daily one-hour walk in the middle of the day could be as helpful as light treatment for coping with the winter blues.
Get outside: Go outdoors in natural daylight as much as possible, especially at midday and on brighter days. Inside your home, choose pale colours that reflect light from outside, and sit near windows whenever you can.
Eat healthily: A healthy diet will boost your mood, give you more energy and stop you putting on weight over winter. Balance your craving for carbohydrates, such as pasta and potatoes, with plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables. Read more about healthy a balanced diet.
Practicing mindfulness: Mindfulness can help us move from autopilot and become more aware of our present moments. It has been proven effective in reducing stress and anxiety. Peter Helmer, our experienced mindfulness practitoner runs a free weekly group.
See your friends and family: It's been shown that socialising is good for your mental health and helps ward off the winter blues. Make an effort to keep in touch with people you care about and accept any invitations you get to social events, even if you only go for a little while.
Browse free resources on our winter wellbeing page:
- Beating the winter blues
- Seasonal Affective Disorder
- Maintaining your physical and mental health