7 Ways to Beat the January Blues

JANUARY. If you’re struggling this week, you aren’t alone. While we are expected to take the new year with stride, this month can signal the onset of general discontentment or depression. There’s so much pressure in January to set new goals, align the right motivations to get things done, and get back into the routine of work. It doesn’t help that the days become shorter and the weather outside often cold and gloomy.

With winter coming in and cementing its place for the next few months, many of us can start to feel and give in to the winter blues. In fact, several people can experience Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), leading to us actually feeling an extent of depression and be in a decreased mood during this specific time of year. Here are a few things that you may find helpful to boost your mood and motivation during those dreary, cold days.

1. Share with a friend or family member that you’re struggling. 

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There’s so much stigma around talking about when you’re not feeling at your complete best and as a result, we go about our day, all thinking that everyone else is fine and has their entire life together and we’re the only one struggling, when in reality,  many of us have periods of discontentment and depression. Don’t suffer in silence, but share about it with the people in your life. Even when it’s not the popular thing to do, know that good always comes from vulnerability.

2. Start your morning off with a glass of lemon water.

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It’s seems like something so small, but drinking lemon water first thing in the morning has become somewhat of a ritual for me.

Studies have shown that drinking a glass of hot lemon water when you wake up helps to boost your metabolism and energy levels for the rest of the day.

For those of us who want to limit our caffeine intake for the day, I find that starting your day with a nice warm cup of lemon water refreshes the mind in the best way possible and gives me the boost I need to brave the cold outside. And if you want to give it a little something extra, try adding a teaspoon of apple cider vinegar or boiled ginger into your glass.

3. Brighten your space with a “happy” light to fight against Seasonal Affective Disorder or general winter blues.

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Winter, especially in Canada, is a time when we as humans are deprived of adequate sunlight that our bodies would usually receive during the summer months. And did you know that being exposed to sufficient sunlight is directly related to our overall mood and alertness? To combat Seasonal Affective Disorder, maybe consider getting a Happy Light which mimics natural sunlight to improve mood, energy, and focus.

4. Replace blue with some green.

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With the cold outside, it’s tempting to want to stay indoors all the time and huddle around your laptop and phone screens, but electronic devices emit blue light which causes eye strain. Additionally, being constantly immersed by your screens all day isn’t healthy for the mind either. Take some time to go outside during the daylight hours to walk around and get some fresh air.

Maybe also consider buying some plants to spruce up your living space. There’s just something about the vibrant green colours and sense of growth and life that can help reinvigorate your mind and spirit on a cold, cloudy winter day.

5. Make plans with friends. 

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Don’t get stuck inside all day. When your schedule allows, make plans with friends to have something to look forward to in the day. Whether it’s to meet up for a coffee or meal, go see a show, or anything else, you’d be surprised what a difference it makes to share in good company and conversation.

6. Vitamin D and Omega 3 supplements

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In most parts of the world, winter means shorter days and significantly less sunlight. With this and the fact that not many foods we regularly consume contain vitamin D, almost all Canadians and many people around the world are not receiving sufficient vitamin D levels to maintain good health.

Now is the time to be intentional in taking regular vitamin D supplements to boost energy and also omega-3 which helps to support brain health and improve overall mood.

7. Turn your phone onto “night shift” mode when the sun sets, and then turn it off completely an hour before you go to bed.

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Turning your phone to night-shift mode will reduce the blue light emitted and instead use warmer tones on the screen, helping to improve quality of sleep. That’s because exposure to blue light suppresses the production of melatonin, a hormone that signals to the body that it’s time to sleep.

What are your top tips for mental health and getting through those cold, dreary days? I’d love to hear about them so we can all brave through the winter together!

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