Was 2016 a difficult year for you? Well if it was, there is no wonder you are glad to see the back of it! Banish those January blues and let me help you get 2017 off to a great start...you have more control than you might think about how to get the most out of the year ahead. Don't rely on the universe providing and hope that good luck and fortune will prevail...think about what you can do now to feel better and live well.
Have you thought about what you would like to achieve this year? I believe if you have a realistic plan of what you would like and how you are going to work towards achieving it, there is less chance of failure. If you have made new year resolutions then don't be hard on yourself if you are not getting instant results...be patient and keep going.
January can be a dark and gloomy month (if you live in the UK as I do!), however if you notice this evening, the nights are already starting to draw out, giving us a tantalizing glimpse of the spring and lighter days to come. Here are my top tips to manage the January blues and not feel low on 'Blue Monday' (typically the Monday of the last full week of January). Get the best out of this month and look forward to the year ahead.
Winter solstice has passed and each day offers more sunlight. Remember Vitamin D is important - natural sunlight for a few minutes a day, even in winter helps to improve our wellbeing. I don't like to wish time away, however it won't be long and you will notice bulbs appearing and plants and trees coming to life again. Go outside and get some fresh air - enjoy the season now as it is changing each day.
Transfer all of your important dates to remember for the year ahead. This is also a good time to think about people you haven't seen in a while...is it time to arrange a get together? Get a few ideas down in your diary or calendar...having events to look forward to help you to stay motivated.
If so, begin to plan when and where. The research and looking through brochures can be uplifting. If you are not able to go on holiday, it is still a good idea to think about when to take time off work so you are still getting a break.
Sort those cupboards, drawers and wardrobes. If you are inundated by children's toys and you are struggling with space, sit down with the children and sort out what they don't play with anymore or have grown out of. You can take things to the charity shop or sell some bits on the internet to give you a little extra cash. This also teaches the children about decision making and you can take a trip down memory lane and talk with your children about where the toys came from and what you remember about playing with them before you pass them on elsewhere.
Unfriend or stop following those people on social media sites that evoke more negative feelings than positive. Go through your friends lists and update your notifications settings so you are seeing more from people you want to hear about!
You've probably just taken Christmas decorations down if you put them up in the first place. Take the opportunity to have a bit of a clean. I know this takes energy and motivation, but I promise you will feel better afterwards as you will see the results.
Did you over indulge with rich food and have a few extra alcoholic drinks over Christmas? Are you feeling a bit sluggish? If you would like to lose weight, think about doing some exercise you enjoy. Could you give away those Christmas leftovers (chocolates, biscuits etc.) or take them to work for others to share? Top up your vitamin intake on fresh fruit and veg which your body may be craving from a change of diet over Christmas.
Is it time to start making soups or getting those slow cooker recipes out of the drawer?!
Do you keep getting colds, flu or stomach bugs? Has something been on your mind about your health? Not feeling good physically or mentally? Well, perhaps it's a good opportunity to start the new year off by seeking advice and booking an appointment with your doctor.
Okay, so the new year is a good time to review your finances. Christmas can be an expense that puts a strain on the rest of the year. However, without Christmas things can be difficult. Go through those letters and bills that you have been putting aside until "after Christmas" so you know exactly where you are and what may be outstanding.
The main piece of advice I could offer (and I am talking from experience!) is don’t run away from your money worries, no matter how bad they are. Fear of dealing with debt or losing your home/possessions can take over and distract you from talking to creditors and banks, who may be able to offer you solutions to relieve some of the burden. There are free advice websites for money worries out there. In the UK, the Citizens Advice Bureau can be a good place to start.
New Year's Resolutions can be helpful but also an opportunity to fail and feel bad about ourselves at a 'grey' time of year! Choose one thing you want to focus on, whether that be drinking less alcohol, stopping smoking, doing more exercise or eating less...not all of them in one go! You are more likely to achieve better results by concentrating on one lifestyle change at a time and therefore reducing risk of failure. If you have a bad day with your goal or New Year Resolution, then try to get back on track the next day without berating yourself.
Keep going with your lifestyle change for as long as necessary but if you choose to stop then let this be because you reach your goal or decide that you're actually okay with how things are anyway...perhaps timing is not quite right? Is there something else you can do that may be a little easier to begin with? Don't use stopping as 'giving up' and as an emotional stick to beat yourself with!
Try not to remember just the bad bits. Think about the good bits too and what or who offered you comfort and made you laugh. Is there something you wanted to do or achieve but didn't? Well, carry it over to this year if you can and want to. Think about why you were not able to achieve what you wanted. Is there something you could have done differently that you can bring in to the new year to help you actually realise these goals, ambitions and plans? Remember to keep things realistic and achievable. Please don't repeat patterns of setting yourself up for failure.
We all do it don't we?! We toast the New Year and say out loud or silently that "this year is going to be my/our year!" Well, maybe it will be but there are a lot of days in a year...enough for a mixed bag. Keep expectations manageable and try not to pin everything on 2017 being the most amazing year ever. Who knows? It could be which would be great, but there WILL be challenges ahead for everyone. All the more reason to focus on the smaller ways in which you can take control and make changes if you wish.
If 2016 was difficult for you, I really hope this year brings you more happy times, and if you did have a good year last year, may this continue for the year ahead.
Remember to stay focused on the bigger picture to help you shrug off the days where you may feel low in mood or experience difficult challenges. These harder times can help us to appreciate the good times all the more.
There are things to like about January! If you have any money left over from your December pay packet or have vouchers/gift cards from Christmas, then treat yourself in the January sales. Perhaps take in a movie at the cinema - there are lots of great films on early in the new year due to upcoming Oscar nominations.
According to Roman Mythology, January is the door to the year, so wholeheartedly walk through and embrace what the year has to offer. And if you and January have not been friends in the past, then consider buying yourself a bunch of carnations, which is the traditional English birth month flower for January, brighten up a table or mantelpiece with them. Better still, if you know someone else who may be feeling a little down after the excitement of Christmas and New Year celebrations, buy them some carnations too to spread some cheer and banish those January blues.
If you think or feel that you are suffering from something more severe than January blues and are worried about your mental health, please do seek help from a medical or mental health professional.
See my page on signs of depression if you would like further information on symptoms.
See my Stress Management page for tips to deal with stress...all year round.