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How you can beat the blues this January

Happy people

Lifting the spirits

What is it about January that makes us feel lower than usual? What can we do to turn things around?



Is 'Blue Monday', so-called because it's supposedly the most depressing day of the year, a real thing? In short, no.

The term was first coined in a press release for a travel channel and not taken seriously by scientists – largely because depression doesn't pick days. There are, however, reasons we experience low moods at this time of the year, and things you can do to counteract them.

The weather

Winter is a rather romanticised time. When it first arrives, the crisp weather is described as 'Christmassy' and presents the perfect excuse to be cosy indoors, or dig out our favourite winter coat when we go out.

By the time the festive period has been and gone, though, we're left with the cold temperatures but without that sense of magic, which can leave us feeling fed up. If you look out the window in January, the chances are the skies will be grey – and more often than not, raining.

We can take comfort, however, in knowing the colours and freshness of spring are just around the corner. We can also make the best of the situation by embracing the prospect of staying in and enjoying that book we've long intended to read, or perfecting a hearty winter recipe to put those good dietary intentions into practice.

Whatever kind of culinary creation you'd like to try your hand at, you're sure to find something of interest in our recipes section.

Seasonal affective disorder (SAD)

Some people notice a real shift in how they feel as the seasons change. This is called seasonal affective disorder, sometimes known as 'winter depression' because that's when symptoms can be strongest and there's reduced exposure to sunlight, which is linked to the condition.

Symptoms of SAD can include irritability, lack of energy and weight gain. Read more about SAD and when you should consider seeing your GP.

New Year's resolutions

Year in year out, we set ourselves resolutions only to break them as soon as January ends, if not before, and beat ourselves up for it.

Most of the resolutions we make are about our wellbeing, and the reason we may give up on them is because we're trying to give up or take on too much at the same time, or haven't done enough research on the best way to go about it.

The best way to go about it is to do some research and try things out, to discover what works for you, and increase the chance you'll stick with your plans to improve your health – be it a better diet or increasing levels of exercise.

Read our Healthy Living guide for tips on what may work for you.

Money worries

Christmas may seem a long time ago now but our bank accounts often mean it's something we have to keep thinking about long after the gifts have been opened and the wrapping paper thrown away.

It can be a very expensive time and people often rely on credit to buy presents and food, and prioritising these costs can mean struggling with household and energy bills.

The stress and anxiety of falling behind on payments or getting into debt can really get the year off to a bad start. Thankfully, help is at hand in the form of free information and advice to help ensure the situation doesn't get worse.

Contact the National Debtline if you're having money worries.

A more persistent problem

Mental health issues such as depression and anxiety can, and do, affect us all year round. If your low mood persists then you should talk to someone. This may seem daunting, but there are people who want to listen, whether it's a friend or your doctor.

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Last updated: Jul 28 2022

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