Updated: Jan 11, 2021
So, we are over a week into January and the majority of the people I have spoken to, namely friends and family, have expressed that they are feeling a little ‘down’. Some have said they have no energy - others have said they feel overly irritable and have little patience but all of them have wondered why, when a few days before they were feeling fine. I have to admit that to a certain extent I include myself in feeling a little less motivated than usual! Which led me to wonder why January affects so many of us in this negative way.
When you stop and think about it, the build up for Christmas is so hectic, filled with chores and visitations; entertaining kids with pantomimes or parties (when COVID isn’t around), planning for the ‘big day’ and everyone is on their best behaviour. Suddenly it's all over, you’ve got a massive amount of tidying up to do, you have to run the gauntlet of returning clothes that are either too big or too small, you vow never to have family over again, you're exhausted, you're back to work and the credit card bill which covers Christmas spending is due in. Not to mention the failed new year resolutions and the Christmas additional weight gain. It's no wonder we come back down to earth with a huge bump. Perhaps that's why there's an actual expression for it; the January Blues.
January blues is a very real thing. Whilst it is completely natural to feel like this these feelings should only last for a few weeks. The usual symptoms of January blues are:-
Lack of motivation
Feeling as if you have nothing to look forward to
These feelings are not pleasant for anyone but should naturally balance themselves out over the first few weeks of January. There is a certain sense of loss over moving into January but once your routine is re-established and you adjust to a quieter, less sociable pattern then your mood will naturally rebalance.
But what if it doesn’t?
There is a difference between feeling sad and having sad. I am referring here to Seasonal Affective Disorder. If your feelings become more severe and stop you from functioning normally in your day to day routine it could be something to consider. If this is something you are concerned about please contact your local GP. SAD is a type of depression that matches with certain seasons due to the type of weather.
Common symptoms are:-
Lack of energy
Finding it hard to concentrate
Finding it hard to sleep
Feeling tearful or hopeless
Changes in appetite
The best treatments for SAD are those prescribed by your doctor although there are a number of self-help tips below:-
Daylight hours are shorter in the winter so get outside for as many of those hours as you can
If you are working indoors let in as much natural light as possible
Eat a healthy, balanced diet with small meals having little and often.
Try to avoid alcohol
Exercise if you can - preferably outdoors
Try to stay in touch with family even if they are just short conversations
Let people know how you are feeling
If you think you are experiencing more than the January blues contact your GP who can advise you of the best way to manage your condition. This could be a combination of medication and counselling.
For more information about SAD please click here