Are you a victim of the January Blahs?
With the beginning of a new year, January is a month of motivation, change, and new beginnings. However, for those of us in winter-laden areas, January can also be the greyest and coldest months of the year. It is tough to get that new year motivation rolling when it is so cold and miserable outside.
Cue the January Blahs.
The bright and sparkly excitement of December has ended and here comes this overwhelming new year with long, dark days and wind that hurts your face. People tend to retreat indoors to the comfort of their warm homes and avoid all outdoor activities. The gym, parks, socialization, really any walking outdoors is a foreign concept at this time.
By the end of January, most people will have “fallen off the wagon” with respect to their New Year’s resolutions. Granted, most people tend to set unrealistic expectations for their goals, often getting discouraged with any fall in progress.
Lucky for all the citizens of snowy winter areas, we have got the top 7 tips to kick these January Blahs and get back to your motivated, energetic self!
1. Self-compassion and kindness
Pay attention to the internal monologue that is constantly playing in your head. You might be shocked by how harsh and unforgiving you are with yourself. Embrace imperfection and start practicing self-kindness, compassion, and forgiveness. Self-care is a great place to start! Draw yourself a bath, relax with a good book, or treat yourself to spa day!
2. Become reacquainted with nature
Research shows that a leisurely forest walk in comparison with urban walks decreases cortisol (the stress hormone), lowers blood pressure, improves mood, and lowers anxiety. Don’t have access to a forest? Get outside anyway! Listen to the sounds, observe the sights, and reflect.
3. Laugh more
In addition to boosting your immune system, laughter also reduces stress, stimulates the release of endorphins, the feel good neurotransmitters, helps relieve pain, and may ease blood pressure. Laugh it up, it’s good for you!
4. Set proper goals
The reason why most New Year’s Resolutions don’t tend to last is because of improper goal setting. Most people set unrealistic goals for themselves, which sets you up for failure. Setting specific, slightly challenging goals have been proved time after time to be the best method of goal setting.
Making sure they are not too easy, and ensuring specificity (i.e. How many servings of vegetables is your daily target? How many kilometres do you want to run within 30 minutes by March?) is the key to good goal setting. Check out this TEDtalk by venture capitalist John Doerr who has a goal setting system that has been employed by large companies like Google and Intel to differentiate success from failure.
5. Hold yourself accountable
This is a way to keep yourself on track for your goal. Connect with like-minded friends, fellow members of your gym, or join a program where they have large networks of accountability groups! When others can hold you responsible, you are more likely to stick to the goals at hand.
6. Get some light
Many studies have shown that light therapy can treat Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). SAD is a mood disorder that is related to changes in season. Light therapy is a new, popular method of treatment for SAD. The research shows that 10,000 lux of light for 30 minutes per day early in the morning can treat and prevent symptoms of SAD.
Those who received light therapy noticed improvements in energy, mood, fatigue, and cognitive function! This study compared light therapy to a commonly used antidepressant, fluoxetine. The results showed that light therapy had no significant difference of efficacy compared to fluoxetine. Both groups saw significant improvements in mood. Something as simple as light was able to provide the same benefit as a pharmaceutical medication!
How do you get this specific amount of bright light every morning? Companies like Verilux have light machines specific to treating SAD, providing the therapeutic amount of lux with timers to ensure your daily dose of light.
Vitamin D is quite commonly deficient in those who live in winter-heavy countries, like Canada. Research has linked Vitamin D deficiencies to lower mood, worsened cognitive performance, decreased immune function, among other more serious concerns.
Studies have shown that improving Vitamin D levels was significantly associated with improvements in depression scales, concluding that Vitamin D is an important consideration for the January Blahs. Want to learn more about optimizing your health? Check out our blogs for more health and wellness tips!