January isn’t an easy time – most people are fed up with the darkness, the cold seems to creep into our bones, everyone is sluggish and slow, and the ghost of Christmas past mocks us by taunting every street corner with ridden trees. But that doesn’t mean that we can’t play Winter at its own game.
Each year, more and more people get affected by seasonal affective disorder (SAD), other mood disorders, depression and of course low energy – in fact, the NHS estimated SAD to affect approximately 1 in 15 people in the UK in 2018. (1)
What’s more, ‘Blue Monday’ – typically the third Monday in the month of January (which is claimed to be the most depressing day of the year) – is right around the corner. To help you avoid feeling sad and low, beat the January Blues and boost your happiness easily (rather than wallow in the dark, cold days and let your mood fade to the back of your priority list), here are simple lifestyle hacks you can practice that actually work! You got this.
Easy and unexpected ways to boost your mood and beat the January Blues
1. Keep moving – even on those cold, wet days
As humans, we are not designed to be stationary. We are designed to keep moving throughout our day with regular sprints of exercise – because when we move, we release endorphins, hormones in the body that trigger positive feelings. This instantly boosts our happiness and helps to keep us feeling healthy, both physically and mentally. Don’t let the January Blues get to you, try and move – that way you can naturally boost your focus and overall mood.
2. Notice the little flashes of beauty around you
Research has shown that when you look at beautiful things and take the time to notice beauty around you, you naturally get a burst of positive emotions and feel more connected to the world around you. So take a good look around you – what is it that’s really beautiful? What can you look at in a more meaningful way? What do you notice that you can really savour and appreciate? These could be gorgeous flowers you have in the house or a whimsical little bird singing song in the park. These little things can immediately give you a positive outlook and increase your happiness in a flash.
3. Commit to at least one act of self-care a week
Taking the time to carve out space to nurture yourself is very important when trying to maintain a positive outlook and mood every day. The thing to remember is that when you don’t take care of yourself you’re not able to care for anyone else. If you want to help others, you have to start by helping yourself. I like to spend a bit of extra time on my morning meditation one day a week if not more, specifically practicing self-compassion meditation, as my chosen act of self-care. This helps to lift my energy fast and helps me to continue serving the world in my own way the rest of the week. Challenge yourself, no matter how big or small, because your happiness deserves it.
4. Celebrate your relationships and share your emotions
Pick one person in your life and tell them what they mean to you. Write them a heartfelt note or have a ‘deep and meaningful’ with them to let them know just how much they mean to you. By sharing your emotions and an act of love, you spread the natural emotion of happiness. Don’t be afraid to share what’s in your heart – this is the celebration of love that you’re looking for.
5. Take a time-out from your week to reflect
Reflect on your past week – what’s been going on and what’s been good about it – specifically, ask yourself these three questions:
• What was your proudest moment or achievement of this week?
• What was your biggest learning? What happened that helped you grow and develop?
• What was your most beautiful moment this week?
We generally don’t make or take enough time to reflect thanks to busy schedules or responsibilities, but it’s important for you to take a time-out at the end of your week and reflect on everything that you’ve accomplished. Feelings of gratitude have a huge impact on lifting your mood and increasing happiness so you can go on to the next week with your head and heart held high.
Wave goodbye to the January Blues, because you’ve just received a fresh and happy perspective, friends.