January can be a tough month for many, on top of all the excesses, the forced “let’s all love it” of Christmas and the break in routine, January is a l-o-n-g month. Not just til pay day but the short days, endless cold weather and spring a life time away it can be a challenge just to get through each day.
So here are my top tips for avoiding the January blues:
Distractions come in different forms, some are helpful and others not so. Alcohol is a great distraction, it dulls the senses and seems to suspend your problems, momentarily at least. But you of course don’t need me to tell you that this is not the answer.
Positive distractions however can really get us over the worst of times until we feel more able to deal with all that we have on our plates. Magazines and web sites have loads of suggestions to encourage you to take up new hobbies, try something you haven’t done before and find a creative outlet. There are even websites dedicated to hooking you up with other people in your local area who want to do the same thing as you, so get out there make some new friends and move around a bit more.
Engaging with people rather than staying isolated at home can really improve our mood. When we’re a little low or even mildly depressed, there is a tendency to shut ourselves away and withdraw from society. Often we tell ourselves that we just hibernating or snuggling down for the winter evening but ask yourself if deep down you’re trying to avoid the pain of social interaction. Withdrawing from others is a natural reaction, but being mindful of this means we can be aware of this negative tendency and do something about it. Getting out of the house, talking to people, joining a new club, taking an exercise class – all these activities will lift your mood and make you feel chirpier.
Exercise itself, generally speaking involves large physical movements – hands over your head or lifting your leg for example – when we move our body in big gestures our mood is also increased. That’s why dancing is such a wonderful tonic, the music, the way your body moves all naturally harness the bodies reaction to making big movements. If you notice when we’re fed up or feeling low, our movements all become smaller, they generally go down towards the floor (eye gaze, drop of the head) and the body seems to shrink down to as small as possible. When we go big, stand up tall, look up, wave our arms around as we talk – these are all the signs of somebody excited or passionate about what they talking about. Big movements lift our mood: small movements lessen our mood.
Taking part in an exercise class like Pilates, takes your mind off things for while, has a positive overall benefit to your health and wellbeing and part of your plans for 2015 might be to lose a little weight or get fit anyway. It will also help you sleep better at night if your troubles have been keeping you up. Trust your judgement and give things a try, a subtle shift in the dynamic of your day can make a huge difference to your week.