As 2020 came to an end, you may have been feeling excited for what the new year will bring. However, come the second week of January, most of us end up feeling very differently, and the January blues can set in.
We now have a somewhat defined “most depressing day of the year”, which is said to fall on the third Monday of January, known as Blue Monday. Although this “Blue Monday” was a marketing ploy created by Sky Travel in 2005, the concept makes sense. It is about the time that the excitement and motivation for our resolutions fade, we’ve gone back to work, and the weather is still dark and cold (without the excitement of Christmas).
In fact, The Samaritans have stated that 20% of people experience depression at this time of year. This is in comparison to 4.5% of people who experience depression in the UK at any other time, according to the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence.
Most January’s we find ourselves on some kind of health kick, or attempting to save money, or even to find a new job. We often start the month with excitement and energy to get these tasks done and cement these new habits, but a few weeks in, we still haven’t seen any progress, and yet the hard work continues.
We might find ourselves wondering; “What is the point in going to the gym so often, I’m not feeling any fitter?” or “I haven’t been anywhere in weeks and yet my bank account looks no different!” We are making sacrifices, but can’t yet see the reward, and many of us give up.
Often, we are left feeling annoyed and upset that we have, yet again, given up our new years resolutions. This also acts to support a limiting belief we might hold about ourselves; “I always give up” or “I can never change.”
When we break a resolution, we often give up completely, but this is like finding out you have a flat tyre and deciding to slash the other three. You just wouldn’t do that; you would figure out a way to change the flat tyre. Just because you have had a slip-up, doesn’t mean you need to give up completely and wait for the following new year to try again. You can pick up from where you left off right then and there.
Socially Dictated Reflection
Another factor which can contribute to the January Blues is the socially dictated reflection that seems to happen around the turning of the year.
Around New Year, you might see friends or colleagues posting their “wins” for the year on social media or their favourite moments in a “round-up” post. But what happens if your year hasn’t been a great year? These moments can feel very isolating and unsettling and you might find yourself comparing your year to these social media posts, which are often not a true reflection of someone’s year, but merely a highlight reel.
A more productive way to reflect on your year is to ask yourself certain questions and spend some time reflecting on these. For example;
- What brought you joy this year?
- How can you do more of that next year?
- What brought you upset this year?
- How can you avoid that more next year?
- What do you want more of?
- Is there anything you want less of?
- What lessons did you learn this year?
- How can you implement them next year?
These questions prompt you to take stock of the year that you had. They allow you to process what happened, and to think about how you might plan for the following year. These questions prompt you to move forward with purpose rather than simply waiting to see what the next year brings you.
Beating the January Blues
Here are some other tips for beating the January Blues this year:
- Have a social media detox. Plan some time to focus on yourself and your loved ones in real life by limiting the time you spend on social media.
- Curate your social media feeds. You might decide to spend some time unfollowing social media accounts that lead you to unhealthy comparison, social pressures, or negative thoughts. Find accounts that inspire you and make you feel happy.
- Set reasonable goals for yourself. As mentioned above, throwing yourself into a complete lifestyle overhaul might feel exciting at first, but can quickly lead to exhaustion and frustration. Set smaller and more manageable goals which are likely to go further. You can always build on them later in the year, once they have become more natural parts of your routines.
- Make plans. Whether they are plans to socialise that month, or plans for a holiday or event later in the year, having something to look forward to can help to boost your mood through January.
- Talk to someone. If you are feeling the effects of the January Blues, it is important to talk to someone about it. It might be a friend, family member, or colleague, or it might be a professional. Getting the support that you need is so important. Especially if it feels like the January Blues are slipping into a depression.
If you’d like professional therapeutic support then get in touch with us by calling 020 8673 4545 or emailing [email protected] We have appointments available at our centres in Clapham and Tooting, seven days a week.