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  • Writer's pictureFelicity Baker

How to Beat the January Blues – The Importance of Self-Care

Updated: Jan 13

The term ‘January Blues’ was coined for a reason. It can be a hard month for many, with reported stress-levels rising by a third, and 'Blue Monday', the third Monday of the year, said to be the most depressing day of the year. Here we offer some tips on how to beat the january blues and the importance of self-care

And the January Blues does not just affect us as individuals but also has a knock on effect on our workplaces. All of this negative emotion not only reduces productivity it also increases sickness in the workplace. And sadly, one in five employees think about resigning during January.

How to beat the january blues - the importance of self-care

How to beat the January Blues - the importance of self-care

Self-care is important for both your physical and mental wellbeing, and absolutely crucial during times of increased stress or negative emotion. If you do not look after yourself, it can weaken your ability to cope with challenging situations.

What is self-care?

There are six dimensions to self-care; physical, emotional, psychological, spiritual, relationship and workplace/professional. Some people may find it naturally easier to look after certain aspects of their self-care than others, but it is important to work on them all in a balanced manner.

Here are some easy-to-action self-care tips for each of the dimensions. Try to incorporate some into your day, and take the time to consider if there are any areas that you need to work on more than others.

What you can do to improve self-care

Physical self-care

Eat regularly and healthily. After the indulgence of the festive season, scaling back to a healthy diet, eating nourishing and hearty foods, and managing your alcohol intake will help. But try not to set unrealistic targets. This is common at this time of year, particularly around food and exercise. Remember small, attractive, realistic goals are more likely to be attainable.

Take part in regular physical activity. It doesn’t have to be traditional exercise. It could be any form of physical activity that you enjoy, going for a walk, taking a yoga class, dancing or playing catch with the dog.

Allow yourself to take time off work when you are sick and make sure you seek medical attention when you need it

How to beat the january blues - the importance of self-care

Emotional self-care

Spend time doing activities you enjoy and allow yourself to get fully immersed in them. Being in a state of flow generates positive emotions and these help to calm the stress response. Allow yourself to express your emotions. Don’t bottle everything up. Turn to people you care about and who care about you when you are struggling. They may not have all the answers, but sharing your worries will help to ease the burden. Recognise and make space for your own needs. If you are feeling drained by the needs of others, making space for the things you love doing, will bring meaning back into your life and will generate more positivity.

Psychological self-care

Read literature that is unrelated to work or study and purely for pleasure. With the age of mobiles fully upon us, it can be difficult to make time for reading. But doing so can be a fabulous source of joy and interest, escape and fantasy that brings with it oodles of positive emotions.

Learn to say no to additional responsibilities or pressures. We can experience many barriers to assertiveness, but when we say no to things can't or don't want to fit in, it lightens the load and helps us to feel more in control of our lives, reducing feelings of overwhelm. Plan to take day trips or mini-breaks to get some respite from everyday life. Scheduling time off, or even just time out of the house, boosts positive emotions by providing us with both enjoyment associated with anticipating those experiences as well as the joy of actually doing them.

How to beat the january blues - the importance of self-care

Spiritual self-care

Take some time out of your day to relax, meditate or pray. Connecting with the present moment, allows us to step back from the challenges for a few moments and experience respite. Spend time in nature. There is a lot of research that highlights the value of being in nature for our mental health. Wrapping up warm (and wearing waterproofs) will help you to overcome the natural inertia you might feel at this time of year and will allow you to enjoy nature and appreciate its beauty even on the coldest or wettest days. Engage in a spiritual connection or take part in a community activity. We experience huge emotional and psychological benefits from doing activities with other people. Check out what is happening in your local area. You may be surprised at the array of activities you could try.

Relationship self-care

Make the effort to keep in touch with your friends and family. This could be by phone, email, letter, or even a simple postcard from time to time. Regular contact with those we love and who love and care about us, puts us in touch with what matters in our lives. It can be easy to take these relationships for granted, but investing time in them boosts not only our own positive emotions but theirs too. Allow others to do things for you and offer support to those you care about. Reciprocal kindness provides huge benefits to our self-esteem, boosting positivity and wellbeing Create regular time in your schedule to spend time with your friends and family – and stick to it! When we are busy with work and our own lives it can be hard to do, but you will enjoy those meet-ups even more if you know they will happen regularly and can look forward to them.

How to beat the January Blues

Workplace/professional self-care

Make sure you take a decent break during the working day. Breaks come in all shapes and sizes, from a 2 minute stand up and stretch break, to a proper tea break with colleagues or a walking break at lunchtime. Scheduling breaks helps to ensure they happen. But also try noticing when your concentration is flagging and take a break then. The longer you put off a needed break, the harder it will be to focus on the work at hand. Set limits with your clients and colleagues, and don’t be afraid to push back on them. Using assertiveness at work can help to retain clarity over your role and keep important boundaries around what you do in place. Create a comfortable workspace. Where possible try to ensure your workplace is somewhere you feel happy to be. Whether this is putting up pictures of family, friends, pets, ensuring your desk is a comfortable height and that you have any equipment you need. Making space for plants and ensuring the room is at an optimal temperature are also important for self-care.

If you struggle with the January Blues, and particularly if you find symptoms going on for longer than a couple of weeks, get in touch to find out more about our resilience coaching that will help you banish the blues and build resilience for the coming year.


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