How to Beat the January Blues : Tips for Staying Motivated

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December is always a time of great joy and fun. The bright festive lights, the winding down from work at university and spending quality time with your family, all of which make it special.

There is always that crispness in the air and a buzzing excitement, especially if you are a student coming to the end of your winter term. It is no surprise then, that when January rolls around, the days are short, the nights are long, and the temperature takes a tumble, that many people begin to feel a bit low and miserable. Learning how to beat the January blues is an important skill, and there are a variety of ways in which you can tackle the low moods and take control of your own outlook in January.

Girl looking outside the window on a sofa sad

What is SAD?

Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is a type of depression that people suffer with during the winter months. A depression is considered a low mood that lasts for a long time and has an impact on your daily life. Symptoms of SAD include problems with sleeping, feeling lethargic all the time, overeating, depression, feeling down, irritability, and not being able to socialise with others.

Here are some of the best ways to beat the January blues:

1.Make the most of the sunlight

Although the days are shorter at this time of year, and the weather might not always be the best, you should always try to make the most of daylight hours. Being outdoors in the sunlight is always a boost to your energy and mental wellbeing, even if it’s cold outside as it’s likely to be in January. Natural light increases the serotonin levels in your brain, increasing your positive mood!

Girl looking outside the window breathing fresh air and sunlight

2. Take on some exercise


Exercise is one of the best things that you can do to improve your mood, and of course, it helps you stay in good physical condition. Luckily, some of our student homes have on-site gyms where you can exercise and keep fit indoors if the weather is bad, but if the weather is nice and clear outside, a brisk walk in the fresh air helps to release endorphins, making you feel better with each step.

Girl wearing orange shirt exercising outside

3. Consistent sleep cycle


Sleep and mental health are heavily linked. It is always important that we get enough sleep and rest to ensure we have a balanced and healthy physical and mental wellbeing. If you don’t get enough sleep, it can have a terrible impact on your mental health, you’ll lack focus, be sluggish in everything that you do, and this can lead to anxiety and other mental health issues. So it is important to maintain a consistent sleep cycle to take care of your overall well being.

Girl sleeping well - "how to beat january blues "

4. A balanced, healthy diet


Now, we’re not saying that you should never treat yourself, and if you’ve worked hard, that slice of cake at your favourite coffee shop, or a meal or takeaway with your friends at the end of a long, hard week at university is well deserved.  But it is important that you eat well. What we put in our bodies for fuel has a massive impact on not only our physical health but also our mood. If you only eat unhealthy things, this will have a detrimental impact on your mood, and keep you sluggish. A varied, healthy, colourful, and balanced diet will help boost your mood significantly.

Man wearing plaid shirt eating a healthy diet

5. Don’t be afraid to talk


If you are feeling anxious, sad, or you are worried that you might be feeling depressed, it is important for you to know that you are not alone. Take the time to think about the reasons why you might be struggling mentally and remember that there is absolutely nothing wrong with seeking help, or just having a chat with a friend, a family member, or a member of staff at your university. There are also plenty of organisations that offer mental health support for students.

A girl and a man talking to each other - how to beat january blues

6. Make time to read for pleasure


We know that you’ll have your head stuck in the books studying for most of the year, but reading for pleasure just hits differently. Picking up a brand-new book or going back to an old favourite is a great way to relax, to completely switch off from the world, and to get lost in a fantastic piece of fiction. Reading is a great way to beat the January blues. Alternatively, you could dip into some mental health and wellness literature to understand more about common mental health conditions and understand how you are feeling.

Girl sitting on sofa and reading a book

7. Switch the tech off


It is so easy to be distracted by our phones, tablets, and laptops, to keep the TV running till late at night and to stay ‘connected’ constantly. This can cause burnout, and there is nothing worse for your mental health, especially during January when you might have the blues, than ‘doomscrolling’ through Twitter, Instagram or TikTok for hours on end when you could be resting or sleeping. Switch off the tech at least 90 minutes before going to bed or build in specific time slots during the week when you completely switch off the tech to properly relax and have time for yourself. Regardless of how hard it may be initially , you will thank yourself for taking this step as this also helps with mental clarity.

Switched off phone -how to beat january blues

8. Take up a new hobby


Another way to beat the January blues is to take up a new, fun hobby to occupy your spare time. This can be of great help during the darker evenings in particular. There are no limits to what you can do with this, sign up for a life drawing course, keep a journal, learn how to knit or sew, join a gym, learn how to cook a new recipe, or join a sports team or running club. There are so many options open to you, whether you want a solo pursuit or take on something that helps you meet new people and make friends.

Girl learning knitting from a video

Physical and mental health wellness is important. If you are wondering how to beat the January blues, we hope that the tips above give you some ideas on how to get out of the funk that this time of year often brings on. It can be a particularly challenging time of the year mentally, but with some plan of action, you can make a difference to your mental health.