With Christmas and New Year’s Eve over, spring and summer still a long way off, light hours limited and weather cold and grey, January isn’t the easiest month to navigate. It is also the month where we are most called upon to account for ourselves and to make resolutions to improve our efforts to be better. We might be reeling economically from present buying, nights out, journeys and meet ups and be in the holiday habit of eating and drinking too much and watching Christmas TV.

Being aware that this month might be difficult and finding ways to enjoy yourself to fend off negativity, can really pay off. Here are 5 ways to beat new year blues:

1. Get out of the house. This can help you to avoid feeling stuck, give you a change of scenery and can offers the benefit of fresh air and sunlight. Get out into your garden, sweep, tidy up pots and borders or plant bulbs. Fill up bird feeders; there are all kinds of beautiful birds in our gardens and food is thin on the ground for them at the moment. Go out to your local park or further afield for a walk. Either be flexible and change plans to make the most of any sunshine or wrap up warm and face the cold and rain. Thirty minutes brisk walking is recommended daily to keep fitness and flexibility at healthy levels. Even though blue skies and sunsets aren’t guaranteed, a bracing walk can make you feel more energetic and positive.

2. Make food you love to eat and that makes you feel happy. Try to find time to cook, and eat the things that you most enjoy, perhaps incorporating ingredients that can help to boost mood and well-being, such as:

  • oily fish, such as salmon and mackerel
  • dark chocolate
  • bananas and fermented food, such as yoghurt, kefir and kimchi
  • oats – in porridge or muesli
  • berries

3. Make time for exercise. Choose exercise that you enjoy and start small. Even if you set yourself a target of 10 lengths in the pool, or 20 minutes of online yoga, sometime is always better than nothing. Persuade a friend to join a class with you, if you can, or, be brave and go along by yourself to a spin class or to the gym.  Even though it’s not as sociable or fulfilling as attending classes or playing sport outside, there are lots of online possibilities such as Pilates, fitness training, dance classes and Tai chi sessions you can join live on a regular basis or use recordings of sessions in your own time. At the Meridian Centre [B13, Birmingham] we offer mindfulness and meditation classes in our yoga studio every Tuesday and Wednesday, one hour classes led by Kate Wixon, they incorporate breathing exercises, meditation techniques and stretches to aid relaxation.  Book yourself a place on an upcoming class.

4. Get creative. Give time to doing something creative, maybe choose something that plays to your strengths or really challenge yourself to learn a new skill. If you like singing, join a choir and learn to sing harmonies while also meeting a new group of people. There are lots of arty classes which don’t demand high levels of artistic talent, such as stained glass making, pottery and batik printing. For those of you with art skills, you’ll likely find a wide variety of drawing and painting classes at local centres.

. Learning to play a musical instrument or to join groups to play with other musicians is another way to make yourself feel like you have achieved something positive.  Or simply join a new group – a book club or cooking class, anything that stretches you a little even better if it brings you into contact with new people and new experiences.

5. Treat yourself. With the weather at its worst, holidays over and darkness starting in the afternoon, it’s a great time to give yourself a little treat or two. This might be having a new haircut or buying some early spring flowers to brighten up the house. If money is extra tight, simply planning a quiet evening with a bath, and a book, or popping round to visit a friend can be a real mood booster.

January might feel like a cold, grey month, with summer a long way off, but recognising that we might find it harder to be upbeat at this time of year – and being mindful in taking positive steps to enjoy these quieter winter months as a time for rest and reset can make all the difference.

Need a little extra help?

If you feel like you need a little more support this winter, we offer low cost accessible counselling and psychotherapy services at the Meridian Centre, with over 55 therapists offering support for the widest range of issues from anger management through to stress and bereavement. We can offer daytime, evening and weekend sessions, online, telephone and face to face –  and fees can start at just £10.  

As well as our low cost counselling service we also have highly experienced counsellors and psychotherapists that work from our rooms in private practice. Charges for sessions range from £40-£75. For more information about those therapists in private practice please see our Therapists page.