The days are still dark and the weather is dull, and perhaps you overspent on Christmas presents or overdid the festive snacks. Your relationships may have been put to the test over the holidays, or the Covid tier system may be making you feel trapped and afraid. But don’t worry if you’re suffering from the January blues, as there are ways to get back on track.*
Reintroduce a routine
This may sound really basic and boring, but having a routine in place can really help your mental health. Try to get up and go to bed at the same time each day, even at weekends. Shower and dress every day, even if you have nowhere to go. Have set times for the various activities you do throughout the day, even if you’re not currently working (for example housework, taking the dog for a walk or replying to emails).
Look after yourself
Your physical health has a big influence on your mental well-being. Make sure you’re getting enough sleep and are eating a healthy, balanced diet. It’s time to ditch the breakfast mince pies and get back on track! Try to eat your five a day and replace caffeinated or alcoholic drinks with water. Get outdoors! The weather may not be wonderful, but it’s really important that you breathe fresh air into your lungs, feel some light on your skin and get some exercise. If you really can’t get out, do an online Pilate’s class or run up and down the stairs 100 times!
Focus on your faith
It’s a good time to focus on your relationship with God if you’re struggling. Talk to him about how you’re feeling and ask him to help you overcome the darkness you’re currently facing. Study those in the Bible who suffered periods of mental challenge, for example Elijah, David, Job and even Jesus as his crucifixion approached. Talk to Christian friends or leaders and ask them to pray with you. Spend more time in prayer and worship, soaking up God’s presence.
Do something fun!
You may not feel motivated to do anything wild and wacky at the moment, but there’s no harm in reviving an old hobby or pursuing a new passion. It could be anything from learning to play the guitar to running a marathon. Maybe you’ve always wanted to own a pet, learn a new language or bake your own bread but never got round to it. Perhaps you just need to take some time out for yourself, put a face mask on and enjoy a nice long soak in the bath with a good book. Don’t feel guilty about making time for the things you love, as having something fun to focus on can really help to lift your spirits.
Connect with people
We may not be able to hang out with friends and family the way we used to, but it’s important to keep relationships going and avoid becoming too inwardly focused. Set up an online book club, pub quiz, bake-off or prayer group. Arrange video calls with loved ones. Send good old fashioned cards and letters through the post. Send someone else who might be struggling a text or an encouraging Bible verse. Respond to people positively on social media. Ask God to restore any relationships that might have fallen by the wayside.
Deuteronomy 31:8: “The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.”
*If you’re suffering from grief, stress, anxiety or depression rather than temporary winter blues, it’s important that you seek professional help or at least confide in a trusted friend.
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