Don’t let the seasonal slump get the best of you. Beat the January blues with these five easy tips!
I know I’m not alone when I say that, historically, January sucks.
Christmas is over. We’ve rung in the New Year. The glitter and parties and cheer and holiday spirit have been vacuumed up and boxed away, leaving us with little to fuel the steadfast march through the dark, bleak winter toward spring.
January especially sucks if you suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder (aptly acronymized* as SAD), or struggle with depression in general.
*yes I made that word up – poetic (blogger’s) license, y’all.
Maybe it’s just me, but this year has been especially bad. For most people, SAD kicks in mid-to-late fall, when temperatures drop and daylight hours dwindle to encompass only the standard workday, a.k.a. when the vast majority of us aren’t free to venture outside and enjoy a few sparse rays of sunlight. Not that I’m bitter, of course.
Anyway, while SAD is known to kick in as early as fall, for those of us in the Northern Hemisphere January has resoundingly been identified as the most difficult month to power through. For me, though, the familiar cloud of hopelessness and doom descended exponentially earlier this year. Around, say, November 8th. But who’s keeping track, am I right? The point is, I feel like I’ve been struggle-bussing it for longer than usual this year, and if social media is any indication, a lot of you are too.
While the general inclination might be to find a safe and cozy den (or bedroom) and hibernate (or sleep with an occasional Netflix binge or comfort food foray) until spring arrives, don’t give in just yet! Getting past the seasonal blues is one part waiting it out, and one (arguably bigger) part implementing some totally doable lifestyle changes that will aptly kick SAD’s ass – or, at least, put up a damn good fight.
Today, I’m sharing a few ways we can combat the January blues.
5 Easy Ways to Defeat the Seasonal Slump
1.) Nourish Your Body and Mind with Mood-Boosting Foods
I know a lot of us start out the New Year with a list of things to cut from our diets. Sugar, junk food, fast food, you name it. And I get you! I aim to cut back my consumption of these things as well. But let’s take a second to talk about foods you should aim to *include* in your daily eats:
Walnuts (and other nuts)
Eggs (with the yolk!)
Basically, load up on your omega-3s, vitamins B and D12, and folic acid. These nutrients have all been linked to increased mood, and may be just the holistic medicine you need to power through these last few months.
2.) #getoutside (hashtag optional)
Seriously though. Remove thy Snuggie – that Parks and Rec episode you’ve seen a billion times can wait. Take a walk, even if it’s just around the block. If you’re feeling particularly ambitious, go for a hike. Explore a nearby park, neighboring town or tourist trap. Not only will the fresh air do you good, but (if the weather is working in your favor) you’ll soak up some much-needed vitamin D.
3.) Wear your favorite outfit (or hairdo, or lipstick, or…)
It’s no secret that feeling good about ourselves goes a long way. Trust me, I know how hard it is to get out of that slump when you’ve been down in the dumps for so long that even a hairbrush and concealer feel like too much effort. I GET IT. But you know what I also know? How great it feels once I pull myself up by the proverbial bootstraps (located on my favorite pair of black knee-high boots) and style my hair in a ‘do that makes me feel sassy as hell, and slip into that bodycon dress that makes me look like I do a LOT more squats than I actually can be bothered to do. It feels GOOD to feel good, y’know?
Don’t underestimate how far a little confidence and feeling put together can carry your mood.
4.) Cut back on the coffee and alcohol.
I know, I know. Coffee is the fuel that allows us to accomplish ten tasks in the time mere mortals accomplish one, and it lets us do so without murdering the first person to blink at us the wrong way. And alcohol? Alcohol is everybody’s favorite social lubricant, and it allows us to grapple with (and laugh at?) the news these days, giving us an oftentimes much-needed reprieve from the real weight of life.
But guys. When it comes to depression, overindulging in either is not doing you any favors.
Stimulants and depressants mess with our brain receptors, making the tumultuous seasonal blues even harder to steady. If you’ll note, though, I did say “cut back” and not “cut out,” because from a personal standpoint, some days a glass of wine is exactly the thing I need to unwind, and most days a (single) cup of coffee is almost a necessity to GSD. As with most things, moderation is key, people! But do think twice before downing five vodka sodas at your next celebration. On top of the hangover, it takes a day or more for your brain to find a happy equilibrium again.
5.) Treat yo self.
Take a page out of Donna and Tom’s book and practice some self care. Do whatever it is you do to relieve stress, to make yourself feel special. Maybe it’s getting a massage or a pedicure. Maybe it’s a girl’s night out. Maybe it’s a hot bath and a bath bomb and a glass of wine (see? MODERATION). Maybe it’s standing front and center at your favorite band’s show and dancing the night away. Whatever it is, do it. And do it unapologetically. Look out for number one, because when you’re not at 100%, you can’t give 100% to anyone else.
Hang in there, friends. I know the dark nights and short days are a struggle. To be honest, they’ll probably always BE a struggle. But I hope that regularly implementing these few tips can help us all feel a little more in control of our own happiness during these weird winter months, or at least point us in the right direction.
Be kind to yourself, and remember – we’re all in this together.