Dealing with the January blues in lockdown
After the rush of the holidays, January can feel difficult at the best of times. But with a new lockdown due to Covid-19, this year it may feel particularly difficult. Nia, 22, shares how she's coping.
If you are feeling particularly down and alone at this time of year, you are not the only one.
After the rush of the holidays, January can be a tricky month at the best of times. The weather is cold, the days are dark, and summer feels like a lifetime away. But this year, with many of us living under restrictions due to the Covid-19 pandemic, January may feel even bleaker.
December usually ends with an enthusiastic countdown; this year was no different. More than ever most of us could not wait to see the back of 2020. A new year offered hope. Hope of a vaccine, normality, hugs with friends and family and so much more.
For many of us, however, this hope unfortunately has been short-lived and entering into the new year has meant something different for us all. For some it has come as a time to delight in New Year’s resolutions, with people creating lists of goals and aspirations for the year ahead. For others, the start of the new year has meant facing up to the grief of 2020; a new year not quite offering the same fresh start. For people struggling with their mental health, the new year may represent yet another year of facing pain and difficulty, with recovery and freedom seeming even further away.
This period of time can be made even more difficult by the media. It can feel impossible to escape advertising stunts, companies promoting products to put your sadness to rest, with beauty treatments and diet plans that can supposedly fix everything. We are faced with even more pressure to change, shed excess weight and become “better” people.
My tips for dealing with the January blues in lockdown
So how can we avoid some of the external and internal pressures put upon us this month, and get through another month in lockdown?
- Avoid unrealistic New Year’s resolutions. It can feel impossible to escape everyone’s New Year’s resolutions - their attempts to run new distances, read more books and lose weight. It is hard in these times to avoid comparison and not feel like we too should be changing something about ourselves. So perhaps instead of looking for something to change, we can instead celebrate where we are now. When you feel the pressure to change something about yourself, try writing down everything that you are already doing well. If you can’t think of one: you are a surviving a global pandemic and that is not an easy job! Having something to work towards is great but make these aims manageable and don’t beat yourself up if your efforts go astray. You are just enough the way you are - don’t forget that.
- Get outside. While the weather may be cold, getting outside and having a change of scene can help to no end. Wrap up warm, bring a hot drink and maybe call a friend while you walk. Try to get up and out early when it is still light. The temptation to stay on the sofa and binge-watch Netflix is all too real, but I find that getting outside can really help shift my perspective and, more often than not, helps me get out of a negative headspace.
- Try something new. January can feel particularly uninspiring and unexciting, so find something to look forward to. A new series, a new walking route, a new hobby, a new book or a new game. While we are limited with the things we can do, there are many ideas online of things you can try, all from the comfort of your own home.
- Stay active. This one is a lot easier said than done. With shorter, darker days, finding the energy and motivation can be hard. Start off gently. This could be a walk, a run, a cycle, some yoga. Physical activity has been shown to boost your mood and the endorphin rush may just help shift a few heavy feelings.
- Do not be afraid to talk. Share how you are feeling with others. There’s a good chance they are also feeling the same way. Do not be afraid to seek professional help either. You do not need to face this alone.
While getting through the month may feel somewhat like an impossible task, you can rest assured we will get through this together. There is hope on the horizon. I like to remind myself every day we are gaining two minutes of sunlight in the morning and the evening: the days ARE getting brighter. One thing is for sure: in life, nothing stays the same; it will not be like this forever. Change will come. In the meantime, make yourself, your happiness, and your mental health a priority.
Author: Nia, 22
Where to get help
If you are struggling with your mental health, you're not alone. For tips, advice and information on where you can get support with whatever you're going through, have a look at our find help page.