BEAT THE JANUARY BLUES!
The Holidays are over. Work or school is starting up again. Homeland is finished. The weather is crummy and you have nothing to look forward to. Sound familiar? Yes, sounds like you have a serious case of early onset January Blues. The January Blues are a real thing and nearly everyone gets them for a few days in the winter month — you are not alone! Not only can the first month of the year be a major shift from the party filled, joyous December, it can also be stressful. A new year means pressure — to make and keep resolutions, to make big changes, to start the year off right. January is also a time when people like to be extra vocal (and in your face) about their goals. Notice how your Instagram feed is full of gym pics with the caption “New year, new me!” Blerg. If all you feel like doing is eating cookie dough and watching Friends reruns, we get it 100%. Here are a few things you can do to boost your mood and shake your blues.
And not just to keep a fitness resolution either. Elle Woods was not kidding when she said “exercise gives you endorphins, endorphins make you happy!” Endorphins are the real deal and light excersise can provide a healthy, much-needed dose. This is not exercise-to-get-abs exercise, but exercise-to-feel-happy exercise. Don’t think of it as just drudging to the gym either — grab some friends and take a kickboxing or dance class. The more social, the more out of your comfort zone, the better! Michelle Feldman a counselor currently finishing her doctorate in clinical psychology at Stanford says that “Physical exercise can decrease anxiety and increases the activation of dopamine in your brain, a key neurotransmitter necessary for experiencing pleasure.”
The second best thing to doing something really fun is planning something really fun. Get together with your friends and make a physical calendar of January, planning out fun activities and events. Yes, we have smart phones that remind us when to brush our teeth, but it’s satisfying and calming to see a calendar pinned on the wall with all of your upcoming excitements. Studies have shown that anticipating a fun event may even bring us more happiness that experiencing the event. Most importantly, it’s experiences rather than items that boost our mood. So go ahead, pencil a concert, pedicure, or dinner party into your schedule and the anticipation alone will have you smiling.
Never underestimate the power of getting some fresh air. It has been proven time and time again that even walking outside for a few minutes can improve your mood and de-stress you. Fresh air never fails to clear your mind, refresh you, and generally mellow you out. Going outside helps us remember the enormity of the universe, and how small stresses we have in our day-to-day life mean very little when we think of them versus the big wide world. Even better, take your dog (borrow one if necessary) for a walk. Animals also boost the mood and trigger happiness in us.
And if that fails… get yourself a blue light.
Seasonal Affective Disorder (also known aptly as “SAD”) is a type of depression with symptoms that emerge with the changing seasons. One of the presumed causes of SAD is the body clock disruption caused by lower levels of sunlight during the fall and winter. Especially in the northeast, sometimes hours of actual daylight can be as low as eight in the winter months. Ever noticed you can feel glum when you leave your house in darkness and return after the sun sets? It gets old pretty quick. Luckily if you feel like the lack of sunlight really does affect you, getting a Blue Light for your bedroom is an easy way to boost your light intake which is widely accepted and encouraged for those who deal with the disorder.
Relax and enjoy it. Don’t let Instagram fool you. Everyone can feel a bit down from time to time in the winter months and the worst thing you can do for yourself is feel like you should be super upbeat. Take the month to focus on yourself. Do things that make you happy and feel calm. Reflect on what you want most for yourself for the next year. Progress takes time, and anyone boasting about their January accomplishments is probably lying.