January Depression – “Blue January”
Why can January feel so blue? After the celebrations of the festive season, many people feel low when going back to work in January.
January is a busy time for lifestyle changes: we may take out gym memberships, look at job ads, browse for holidays, start diets and give up smoking.
The trouble is, few of the above give instant results. In the meantime, we still have to clear our credit cards, squeeze into our tighter clothes and get on with a less-than-inspiring job with pay day weeks away and no bank holiday on the horizon.
So what’s this about the third Monday in January…
The third Monday in January has been dubbed as ‘Blue Monday’ the day when post-Christmas gloom and despair is at its worst.
Dr Cliff Arnall of Cardiff University has calculated that Monday 22nd January is ‘the worst day of the year’ using six factors.If the weather, money problems, time since Christmas, time since failing our new year’s resolutions, low levels of motivation, and the feeling of a need to take action have got you feeling particularly blue on this third Monday in January – then you’re not alone!
Tips to beating the January Blues
1. Try something new
It’s easy to feel stuck in a rut, but dwelling on things is a waste of your energy.
Don’t try to fix everything at once – instead focus on changing one thing to boost your mood.
It doesn’t have to be complicated or expensive: you could learn a new language by joining a night class but also by borrowing a beginner’s language course from your local library.
2. Get physical
Everybody knows that exercise is good for our physical health, but it is really just as important for our mental wellbeing. If you’re feeling depressed it may be the last thing you feel like doing, but invest a little effort, and it will pay off. GPs are advised to prescribe exercise for mild depression instead of medicines.Studies show that even ten minutes of aerobic exercise can have a positive effect, so even a brief walk at low intensity can improve your mood and increase your energy. However, to gain the maximum benefit, you need to be a regular exerciser, as regular exercisers gain a far greater benefit from a single exercise session compared to people who are otherwise inactive. For longer-term benefits and to reduce symptoms of depression, it is more beneficial to exercise three times a week for 30 minutes per session at a moderate intensity.
Provided exercise is safe and enjoyable, it will set you on the road to keeping both physically and mentally healthy for the rest of your life.”
3. Contact a friend or relative
Arrange a get together or talk to someone you haven’t contacted for a while.
Making plans and thinking of someone else is a good way to take your mind off your troubles.
Email and social networking sites make this task easier if you don’t like using the phone.
4. Look after yourself
It’s easy to be unhappy with your body, your career, your relationship – everything can be found wanting after the ‘spoil yourself’ mentality of the festive holidays.
While you may need to make lifestyle changes for a healthier, happier you, you shouldn’t see your current self as a failure.
Having goals is good, but they can be destructive if you use them as a stick to beat yourself with.
5. Spot the signs of trouble
According to The Samaritans, suicide levels are at their highest at the beginning of the year.If the future seems bleak, and you have lost interest in everything, it’s time to take some action.
Watch out for these signs of emotional distress: difficulty sleeping, disturbed appetite, excessive drinking, being anxious or angry. Action means talking to someone you trust,
Professor Cary Cooper, of Lancaster University, says ‘the cure for the syndrome lies in having an extra day’s holiday on 2 January’, but for many it is still a bleak month.
Need more help?
We all feel down sometimes, but if you find you’re having these feelings on most days and they last longer than two weeks, please talk to your GP.
Beacon is here to help!
Other useful numbers
Samaritans 0151 708 8888
Crisis Team 0151 706 0624
(Royal Liverpool University Hospital)
Crisis Team 0151 529 8145
(Aintree University Hospital)
Crisis Team 0151 478 7587