I’ve noticed that the month of January splits people’s emotions into pretty much polar opposites: the people who feel motivated and rejuvenated at the start of the year, and the people who have a tendency to feel lower or more vulnerable. For the latter group, dragging yourself through the long winter days which sit on the wrong side of the holidays can feel like really hard work.
Because of this, I thought I’d list off a few of the things I’m trying to do this year to give myself the best chance at having a mentally healthy 2018, and hopefully give a few people some ideas for themselves.
Make the most of the mornings
January mornings can be pretty bleak, and I am still very much in a ‘reluctant to get up’ phase. This is something I’m going to try to alter over the next couple of weeks because a lot can be done in the first couple of hours of a day, so it would be nice to use that time for something productive.
Yoga is something I’ve always mildly entertained starting, but could never find a way to get into it. This year I’ve started doing short sessions from the brilliant Adriene on YouTube and I’m loving it – she’s a great teacher and the pace is nice and slow. I really feel like it’s having a positive impact on my mental health by giving me allocated time out to focus on my mind and body.
Drink plenty of water
I’m putting some thought into staying on top of my water consumption this year – in my opinion, cold weather makes water seem less attractive. But that doesn’t mean your brain and body won’t benefit from it just as much!
I know lots of people have organisation as one of their goals in the new year, and I’m no different. I recently wrote about starting a minimalist bullet journal to stay on top of everything coming my way in 2018 and so far it’s making life feel a whole lot easier. This isn’t the only way to stay organised though – maintaining a tidy space, writing lists, and being aware of when you’re likely to procrastinate and how to stop this are all great too.
Limit social media
Don’t get me wrong, there are many aspects of social media I love. BUT, humans have a great ability to compare themselves to others, and this is only exacerbated by the virtual world. From personal experience, I often feel a little more fragile at the start of the year, as I try to figure out my path for the months ahead, and too much comparison to others during these moments can be quite damaging.
Make plans for outside the house
The weather and darkness in the winter can often be found on the sidelines cheering on depression and low moods; this makes the house seem a lot more welcoming than the blustery outside. Going on short daily walks and making plans to spend time away from home with other people can help to break the habit of becoming a recluse.
Find free/cheap activities
I get it, it’s the month after Christmas and we’re all broke. Great reason to shut ourselves away inside the house and not emerge until March, right? Not necessarily. There are things you can do for free – for example, wrap up warm and go for a walk, try out street photography, take whatever project you’re working on to the local library for a change of scene – and plenty of things you can do for a couple of pounds – take a bus somewhere new and explore, sit in a coffee shop reading a book, find somewhere to play a couple of games of pool… That way, you can still have fun without breaking the bank.
Spend time, not money, on food
As January can be a tight month for a lot of us, it makes more sense to eat in, and by that I don’t mean ordering a takeaway. I often find dark, wintery days less inspiring for inventive cooking sessions than the bright, freshness of summer, but that doesn’t mean mindful food prep should go out the window. January is a great time of year for stews, lentil sauces, pies – and a little prep can go a long way!
Choose healthy options, don’t count calories
A lot of people set fitness goals at the start of the year, which is great, as many of us know we should be moving around a bit more in our everyday lives. However, I think this gives potentially dangerous habits room to grow; as people feel the pressure around them to become a certain body type, more attention can be placed on watching calories. Personally I feel like most people would benefit more from having an awareness of the nutritious value, rather than the numerical value, of what they’re consuming, and making decisions based on that.
Get lost in a book
Sometimes, if I’m not feeling up to going out, the best way to boost my mood is to read something. Anything really, it could be the newspaper, a novel or other people’s blogs, but whatever it is can help distract me and transport me into a different world for a while.
Focus on self-care
There are many small things we can do to look after ourselves, so being aware of what self-care activities work well for you is particularly important if you find yourself struggling through January. Run yourself a bath, light some candles, wash your hair, make your favourite snack, cuddle your pet, listen to your favourite CD, watch a childhood film… There are endless ways to improve a day.
Write your feelings down
If you find yourself stuck in a low mood, writing down your feelings can sometimes alleviate the weight of your thoughts and allow you to move on to something else. If you’re not into writing then creating art can have a similar effect.
Talk to someone
No matter how you’re feeling, talking can often boost your mood and help you out. If you’re particularly stressed, down or vulnerable, please let someone you trust know so that they can get you the help you need.
I hope you’re all having a positive start to the year, and if not, my messages are always open if anyone needs to chat. If you’re not struggling at the moment yourself, you almost certainly will know someone who is, so why not take a moment to ask someone in your life how they’re doing? It only takes a few seconds but could have a great impact on someone’s day ❤
Let me know your tips for boosting mental health in the comments below!
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