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Managing The January Blues

Although many people see the start of a new year as a sign of the opportunities that lie ahead, many others suffer from what is known as the “January blues”. Also known as the holiday blues, this is a form of situational depression, and can easily be confused for similar conditions, such as Seasonal Affective Disorder.


The January or holiday blues are not as dependent on our internal biological or chemical processes, but more so on the situations we find ourselves in. While factors such as a lack of sunlight may contribute in some may to making a person feel worse, it is primarily a condition about our mental state and frame of mind.

Despite the fact that “January” is in the title, this condition can set on as early as November, and for most people, it has some relation to the holiday season. For early-onset cases, people may be anxious about the impending cost of Christmas, or upset about the fact that they may not have any clear plans or anyone to spend the day with. In cases that occur later, people are typically affected by the swift return to normality after such a period of elation.

By the time January comes, many of our friends and family have left, the overbearing and omnipresent joy of December has suddenly disappeared, and there are no major holidays to look forward to any time soon. Social lives typically dip a little bit at this time of year too, as people either want to take a break, avoid the bad weather, or are short on cash.

While exercising and spending time in the sunlight during the day can help improve the situation a bit, the best way to beat the January blues is by putting yourself in a new situation and changing your frame of mind.

Why not schedule your socialising around exercise? Catch up with friends over a walk rather than a coffee? Or sign up for a new class you’ve been meaning to try. You’ll be more likely to show up if you’re accountable to someone else.

The good news is that these blues typically only last for a few weeks, and even being aware of why these feelings have manifested can help people deal with them. It can be very easy to just slump down and let the negative feelings take over, but resisting this urge and making an effort to do something positive could have a huge effect very quickly, and you may not even notice when the blues finally do leave.