News & Views
Banish the January blues…
Amid the dreary midwinter weather, post-Christmas comedowns, eking out finances until the next payday, failed or unrealistic resolutions and low motivation, no wonder so many people hit the doldrums in January. So how do you turn that around?
Follow these tips to perk up your wellbeing and make 2023 your most empowering year yet.
1. Normalise your feelings
January blues might abound but they don’t have to be your thing. Recognise if you’re feeling low, but importantly, also acknowledge the impermanence of these feelings and disempower the seasonal gloom by starting 2023 with a renewed commitment to your wellbeing. If you prioritise your wellbeing now, you can develop and maintain good habits to retain this impetus for the rest of the year.
2. Be realistic
Make your wellbeing resolutions achievable. Begin with a modest objective, take the little wins, recognise your success, then set yourself another goal. This is how you build your pattern of achievement. It doesn’t matter if it seems like a small accomplishment – the point here is that it is a win and that feel-good factor can gain traction and motivate you to achieve your next goal.
3. Let the sunshine in
Do you get SAD? The reduced daylight hours in winter may impact serotonin levels and contribute to seasonal affective disorder (SAD) which affects as many as one in three adults in the UK. SAD includes symptoms such as fatigue, low mood, lack of energy, hopelessness and loss of interest in things. Increasing your vitamin D intake and exposing yourself to as much natural sunlight as possible are two ways to combat this. Even if it means having your breaks outside or taking a five-minute walk around the playground – sunlight and fresh air do help! You can access a plethora of advice from the Seasonal Affective Disorder Association for overcoming SAD.
4. Commit to self-care
When life is hectic and the budget’s running low, it seems difficult to schedule time for your self-care. So start small: pick one change that benefits you and continue from there.
- Get a healthy amount of sleep – ideally between 7–9 hours a night. It’s the easiest reset for your brain and body that you can gift yourself. Set a deadline to go to bed, reduce screen time and give yourself sufficient time to unwind so you gain better quality sleep. If you struggle with sleep, check out the Sleep Foundation’s helpful tips.
- Review your diet. Make one healthier change at a time and be encouraged by the noticeable benefits. Perhaps swapping sugary snacks, which lead to sugar crashes and their ensuing lethargy, with nuts or fruit. Reduce your white processed carbohydrates (for example, bread and pasta) and increase your vegetable consumption – you’ll feel lighter for it. The British Nutrition Foundation provides up-to-date information on healthy diets. Kickstart the day with a healthy habit. Encourage your colleagues to do the same. Why not pitch in for a local fruit/veg delivery, bring in a blender and start your workdays with smoothies instead of coffees?
- Stay hydrated. Drink more water – ideally six to eight glasses a day. It’s one of the simplest ways to enhance cognition, regulate your body temperature and improve your skin.
5. Literally chill out
Ramp up your feel-good factor with something as simple as completing your morning shower with a blast of cold water. Yes, it may feel initially shocking, but the benefits are manifold – lowering blood pressure ergo reducing anxiety, positively impacting stress, metabolism and inflammation. Learn more about the benefits of cryotherapy, starting with Wim Hof.
No matter what your level of fitness is, do something physical. Exercise offers numerous physical and mental health benefits that include weight control, reducing the risk of Type 2 diabetes, strengthening our bodies and improving mood. Whether that’s an early morning walk, 15 minutes cycling or on an exercise bike or some yoga poses. Where possible, exercise outside to boost your vitamin D intake. Here are 10 yoga poses to start your morning positively.
If you’ve been curious about trying a new activity or sport, take the plunge and do it. Think what a great milestone you’ll have in 12 months’ time, when you can say you’ve been doing X, Y or Z for a year now. Fast-forward to the sense of achievement you will have when you reflect on how far you’ve come.
7. Seek help if you need it
If you’re feeling unwell or in a low mood and you know it’s not just the time of year, be honest with yourself and take steps to address the issue. Consult your doctor. Don’t wait. Being proactive with managing your health – both physical and mental – is your biggest step towards improving it. The charity Mind offers comprehensive resources to support mental health.
Many people internalise their stress: verbalising your concerns may liberate someone else to feel comfortable discussing theirs. Understanding, accepting and being understood are all positive ways of connecting.
Resolving to improve your wellbeing doesn’t mean waving a magic wand, but having more agency will set you on the trajectory to achieving it. And remember, your triumphs empower others. When you are in command of your wellbeing, you set a positive example to your colleagues and pupils.
About the author
Sarah Grant is a freelance communications consultant, specialising in the education and charity sectors.