The holiday season is over, we’ve celebrated the new year, the festivities are dying down, and work and school are picking back up; we are entering January. Though it might just seem like a new month, there is something about this time of year that doesn’t get talked about as much as it should. For the next couple of months, many people will experience a gloomy feeling that looms over them, but what causes this?
During January, it is very common for people to feel a shift in their mood, energy and motivation levels. There are many factors that can contribute to this change in our mental state, one of them being weather. Especially in the Midwest, we experience freezing temperatures, blankets of ice and snow and long periods of gray skies. Our environment has a huge impact on our mood. Lack of warmth and sunlight leads to a drop of serotonin levels, making us feel more depressed than we do in the spring, summer and autumn months.
We may also feel this sadness due to the end of the holiday season. Regardless of what you celebrate, there is so much anticipation for the last three months of the year: Halloween, Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, Christmas, New Year’s, etc. Come January, all of the excitement is over. For many people, it’s hard to move past these celebrations and find something to look forward to.
The last factor is the switch back to reality. For students, a new semester fires back up in January, and for workers, holiday breaks and vacations come to an end. It can be really difficult to pick back up on a routine after enjoying time off with your friends and family. With the combination of getting back in routine, saying goodbye to the holiday season and dealing with the winter weather, it’s no surprise so many people feel a storm cloud over their heads in January. Luckily, there are many ways to help you pull out of the seasonal blues.
Because it’s so easy to fall into laziness when you are sad or lack motivation, it’s important to get back on a routine and hold yourself accountable to it. Setting up a schedule to go to the gym and be active can help pull yourself out of this rut. Working out not only builds your confidence and gets your mind off your worries, it also releases “feel good” endorphins that help reduce the symptoms of depression and anxiety. However, if you’re not a fan of exercise, there are plenty of other outlets that can bring you the same sense of relief.
Some ideas include meditation, journaling, spending more time with friends and family and finding new hobbies. Seeing a therapist can also help settle this sadness. Light therapy is another method, where you expose yourself to sunlight when available or use lamps that mimic sunlight. Whether it’s talking to a professional or participating in light therapy, it’s all about finding what works best for you.
With this in mind, it’s important to accept your January blues. Remember that this is a common issue and you are not alone. Above all, try to figure out how to cope in a healthy way.