January can be a really difficult time of the year. The third week in January is said to be the saddest week of the year, with the Monday that has just passed being called ‘Blue Monday’, because it is typically when we feel the gloomiest. This change in mood has been attributed to the dismal weather in the northern hemisphere, the long nights, lots of failed New Year’s resolutions, post-Christmas debt and the end of all the festivities.
It can be tough for us to pick ourselves back up and carry on with things at this time of the year, so I thought I’d share some tips for coping with the winter months:
It can be impossible to find the motivation to exercise in the winter months because it is so miserable and gloomy outside and going out into the cold is often the last thing we want to do. Nonetheless, we should try not to let exercise fall by the wayside because physical activity is a brilliant way to keep ourselves feeling healthy and well. It doesn’t have to be something huge – doing a few stretches and opening your window can make a big difference. It is important to not push yourself too much.
In Denmark, winters are long, and it rains for roughly 170 days of the year. The Danish concept of ‘Hygge’ focusses on making the most of winter and taking steps to make it a safe and cosy time. This involves lighting candles, spending time with loved ones, cuddling up in blankets, comfort food, baked goods, playing board games, and forgetting our worries and the realities of real life for a little while. Hygge is also about seeking harmony with others, being grateful for what we have, and spending time in the moment. Though they experience their fair share of miserable weather, surveys have shown that Danish people are among the happiest in the world. This is largely owed to their generous welfare system, but their concept of Hygge and their focus on togetherness may also have a lot to do with it.
Spend time with others:
Positive relationships are key to our happiness. Spend time with people who know you well, who you can be yourself around, and who love you for who you are. Share memories and have a laugh with people who know you off by heart. Life is too short to waste time worrying about people who don’t like you. Try to connect with an old friend, join support groups, or find a way to connect with others in your community who share an interest with you. If this is an unrealistic option or it feels too impossible, internet forums and communities are a wonderful tool for meeting like-minded people and connecting with others who are experiencing something similar to what you are going through.
Talk to somebody:
The change in weather and the lack of sunlight at this time of the year can lead to irritability, hopelessness, difficulty concentrating and a loss of energy. These are all symptoms of SAD or Seasonal Affective Disorder. It can be useful to talk to somebody you trust or a GP if you feel particularly low at this time of the year. It may be a sign of an underlying problem that needs to be addressed with talking therapy or medication.
Here are some links for guidance about SAD and ideas for self-care during the winter months: