If you are feeling particularly low, sad or depressed at the moment then you are not alone. January is a particularly gloomy and difficult month for a lot of people. Christmas and the holiday festivities are all finished, the weather is lousy most of the time, it is cold, and pay day seems a long way off. For those already struggling with mental health issues, January can be a particularly isolating time.
The January blues are very real for a lot of people, so talking about and acknowledging the struggles and difficulties at this time of year is more important than ever.
Seasonal affective disorder (SAD)
If you find that your mood is affected at this time of year then you may suffer from a seasonal affective disorder. SAD is a type of depression that comes and goes in a seasonal pattern, with winter being the time when symptoms are more apparent. SAD is often linked to a lack of sunlight during the shorter days of winter.
Symptoms of SAD can include a persistent low mood, a loss of interest in activities, irritability, feelings of despair, guilt and worthlessness, lacking in energy, sleeping in the day or for longer than normal and finding it difficult to get up in the morning, weight gain and craving carbohydrates.
If January is getting you down to the point where you are having suicidal thoughts then please contact your GP straight away or speak to
Self-help to avoid the January blues
To minimise the risk of mental health issues arising this January there are a number of things that can help.
Try to get as much natural sunlight as you can or when necessary use a special lamp called a light box which simulates exposure to sunlight.
Avoid alcohol which can worsen the symptoms of depression.
Take regular physical activity. Staying active has been shown to have antidepressant effects in people with mild or moderate depression.
Start the day by doing a few stretches, drinking a glass of water and if you can muster the energy try doing some exercise. A good morning routine can start the day off on the right foot.
Avoid setting unrealistic New Year’s resolutions – setting unachievable goals for yourself means you are setting yourself up to fail, which will probably make you feel worse. Set yourself a health and well being challenge instead.
Eat a healthy balanced diet
Avoid stressful situations.
Try something new. January feels monotonous and boring so throwing a new activity or hobby into the mix can be a great way to break a dull routine.
Plan something for later in the year to look forward to. It doesn’t have to be a holiday and it doesn’t need to be expensive. Maybe make plans to celebrate a birthday. Give yourself something to daydream about.
Cosy winter nights in don’t have to be just for Christmas. Why not organize a proper night in with a few friends to sit around the fire for a good catch up & a giggle. An inexpensive way to socialise and the perfect way to banish the blues.
Meet up with friends or family and share how you are feeling. Let them help you with any emotional challenges you may be experiencing.
Talking really helps so do not be afraid to seek professional help.
Speak to your GP and discuss the pros and cons of antidepressant medication.
Mental Health Local Resources in Bridgend
Hafal Bridgend helps people with serious mental illness and their families to work towards recovery. Visit website.
Platfform (formely Gofal) – A charity for mental health and social change with its head office in Bridgend. Visit website.
If you need to talk to a qualified councillor in Bridgend click here.