3 ways to combat the January blues

We’re halfway through January, with the most miserable day of the year looming (January 20th). The clocks are turning back an hour, the nights are long, the days are grey and the weather is mostly cold and wet. No wonder the ‘January blues’ kick in. It’s that feeling of being lethargic, mentally low, craving sweets and chocolate, and so on. The good news is this is a common feeling – around 1 in 3 people in the UK alone suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD).

That doesn’t mean you should give in and accept it. If you relate to any of the pains above, it’s time to win the battle and get back on the horse. Here are 3 top tips to beat the January blues once and for all.

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1- The Vitamin D Effect

Nobody knows the exact cause of SAD, but most link it to the reduced exposure to sunlight during the winter months. Sunlight ensures our bodies get the recommended amounts of vitamin D, as well as help to regulate our core bodily functions.

How to combat it? Get as much natural light as possible. Here’s how:

  • Open the curtains
  • Sit near windows
  • Go for lunchtime walks
  • Invest in a lightbox (SAD lamp) which replicates sunlight
  • Don’t forget to take your vitamins

2- Make Some Lifestyle Changes

When it comes to your lifestyle, some small tweaks can result in big changes. Alongside getting as much sunlight as possible, introducing regular exercise is critical to managing stress and improving happiness.

Studies show that exercise increases both serotonin (the ‘feel-good’ hormone) production and release – particularly aerobic exercises like running and cycling. Additionally, more sunlight increases the amount of serotonin in your body. If regular, vigorous exercise seems daunting, just try to be as active as possible. The more blood flowing around your body the better. Think about walking to work, standing at your desk, trying yoga, going to gym classes and so on.

When it comes to adapting your lifestyle, your diet is also an obvious thing to tweak. Especially as the winter months normally result in a higher concentration of fatty, carb-heavy foods. Start incorporating fresh, wholesome and organic foods into your diet. You want to feel ‘light’ instead of ‘stodgy’ after meals. Cut back on caffeine as well. Switch one of your coffee’s a day to a herbal tea, and try warm, wholesome soups for lunch. Regular exercise, combined with a healthier diet, will quickly have you feeling better about yourself.

3- Mind Over Muscle

Mental strength is a powerful weapon in times of misery. Treat your mind like a muscle – it needs looking after, stretching and strengthening. Certain breathing techniques can help clear your head of stress and help clarity. Deep breathing helps oxygenate your body, which in turn improves energy levels and mental alertness.

Now, you might be reading this thinking ‘how on earth could breathing help?’, but just try it. It’s not necessarily about the breathing (try running a bath with essential oils as an alternative), it’s about finding a way to prevent mental sluggishness and negativity. As Ant Middleton says, ‘Mind over muscle’. Try this:

  • Find a quiet place to sit or lie down
  • Close your eyes
  • Let your body relax
  • Inhale deeply, feeling your stomach expand
  • Exhale slowly, keeping your back straight
  • Repeat 8-10 times, holding for longer each time
  • Slowly open your eyes
  • Think clearly about positive things

Wave Bye to the January Blues

With these 3 top tips, you should be feeling your normal self again in no time. Start the year as you mean to go and all that.

Chris Smith
Founder of Vivi Nation, sports enthusiast, occasional triathlete, keen cyclist and optimistic Liverpool FC fan.

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