January is generally considered to be the worst month of the year. A culmination of no money, dark mornings and a body still suffering from the excesses of the holiday season results in a low mood for almost everyone. If you’re someone who is particularly vulnerable to low mood and anxiety then the beginning of the year can be particularly tricky.
Personally, I don’t mind the first week or so of January – I like the feeling of cracking open a fresh new diary and finally finding the motivation to eat some veggies, however by mid month I find myself in the same slump as many others. And if dealing with PND and Anxiety has taught me anything, it’s that if I want to feel better I have to take action. Waiting for negative emotions or physical exhaustion to dissipate on it’s own is a recipe for disaster for me as without taking some positive mental and practical steps I can find myself falling down the rabbit hole.
So, truth be told, today’s post is as much a kick up the backside for me as it is for anyone who might be reading. These are steps I plan on putting in place during the next week or two to help protect my mood and mental health during The Dark Month.
I didn’t say these tips were going to be revolutionary, did I? Much as this junk food lover hates to admit it, there’s no question that if we continually fill our bodies with empty calories we’ll eventually end up feeling sluggish, tired and just generally…meh. I love to eat – healthy, unhealthy, whatever it is I love to eat it and at Christmas I’m probably even worse than most when it comes to my diet. To the point that by January my body begins to physically crave green vegetables the way it usually craves KFC. And I’m not a green vegetables kind of girl.
To this end, I’ve faced the music at Slimming World, with a truly horrific result, and made my meal plan for the next couple of weeks. Hopefully some decent home-cooked food combined with the self-care I get from cooking will help to lift my mood and pull my body out of the horrible, tired slump it’s been stuck in.
Again, this is obvious but too important to leave out. And again, something I need to take my own advice on. I currently feel like I’m still catching up on the late nights and busy days of the festive period and I’m not doing myself any favours by staying up late in bed binge-watching Stranger Things! Getting your sleep pattern back in order can make a huge amount of difference to your energy levels and, subsequently, your mood. (If you struggle with insomnia due to Anxiety you might find this post helpful too).
Tidy Up & Get Organised
Those of you who follow me on Instagram will know that I feverishly dragged down the Christmas decorations as early as socially acceptable this year. I love Christmas and we had an amazing time but there is something about looking at those fairy lights after the big day that fills me with depression. I’m not a neat person (just ask Hubs) but there is something about freshening up your house after New Year that definitely lifts your spirits.
On a similar vein, organising other areas of your life can help you feel back in control and more optimistic too. A fresh calendar, a new diary and making those doctors or dentist appointments I’ve been putting off really helps me.
Regular readers will be bored senseless by my peddling of this idea by now but counting your blessings and actually writing them down in a notebook or journal goes a really long way to improving your perspective on life. This is particularly helpful if there is a specific stress or strain currently consuming your thoughts. Our struggles to grow our family are giving me a mental battering this week so I plan to up the gratitude journaling to try to counter this.
Find A Project
This one is quite straightforward for me since I have so many ideas and plans in place for the blog and my work with Lotus Petal this year but for anyone feeling a tad unmotivated in 2018 why not consider how you can create more purpose in your day to day life? This could be anything from starting a new course or hobby to taking on a new goal at work; finding something tangible, that makes you feel good, to focus your attention on can be really helpful.
Plan Some Future Treats
It’s no coincidence that this week you’ll have seen plenty of adverts from holiday companies. We humans need to have treats and trips to look forward to in order to get us through the day to day hard slog so, if you haven’t already, now is the perfect time to plan a trip, treat or night out.
Wrap Yourself In Warm Fuzzies
If you’re already feeling a little down now might not be the best time of year to consume depressing news stories or engage in hard-hitting debates. Instead, surround yourself with warm fuzzies to banish the cold nights and dark mornings – comedy shows, comfort food and your favourite people are all going to help to boost your mood. I find reigniting happy memories helps too – if I’m feeling particularly awful I’ll take to Facebook and go through photos of my favourite times from the last year or two in order to remind myself of all the good in the world. I know, I’m sappy.
Do What Works For You
We’re all completely unique and maybe the ideas I’ve listed above aren’t quite what you need to feel your best. One of the silver linings about going through a difficult time, or suffering from Anxiety or Depression, is that it’s a great opportunity for you to learn more about yourself and what makes you tick. Every time you find another strategy or activity that lifts you up make sure you note it down, ready to refer back to at a later date.
If all else fails just try to accept that January can be monumentally awful and that’s okay. It wont last. Eventually the mornings will grow lighter, the weather warmer and the treats you planned will be here. Our emotions are constantly changing, which although exhausting is also a wonderful truth that we can take comfort from.