Got the January blues? Lack of daylight, the post-Christmas ‘hangover’ after all that excess, and getting back to the daily grind can often make you feel depressed. And that's without the unrelenting rain 2023 has showered down on us – sigh… It's no wonder over a quarter of the UK feel more unhappy in January than any other month. In fact, next Monday is ‘Blue Monday’, the so-called 'most depressing day of the year' according to psychologist Cliff Arnal (who came up with the concept for a travel company to sell winter sun holidays – so go figure!). But don’t feel down, we've got the answer to make your month so much better: self care.
Why is self care even more important in January?
It's tempting to start the year all guns blazing. You throw away the Christmas chocolate, re-join the gym, and sign up for dry January and Veganuary… So far, so predictable. All these things are great in theory, but by deciding to reinvent yourself overnight, you're setting a high bar during a time when you might already be feeling flat, unfocused, and downright depressed.
Rather than dramatically overhauling your entire lifestyle, a gentler and more effective way to make January easier is to practice a bit of self care each day. Instead of taking things away, try giving yourself more – you deserve it!
Here are 6 easy-peasy self care hacks that won't cost the earth, or require big lifestyle shifts that aren't realistic or practical:
1. Find your green fingers
Growing and tending to plants is an excellent form of self care that only requires a few minutes out of your day. Get some seedlings and watch them flourish or choose an established plant you like the look of.
Having a houseplant in your home has tons of mental health benefits. A study looking at the positive impact of indoor vegetation during the pandemic lockdowns showed that 74% of the participants felt their mood improved if they had something green to care for, and many people found value in the plants relying on them to survive.
Water your plants, make sure they get enough sunlight, and in return, you get something beautiful that makes you smile whenever you look at it. Got form as a plant killer? Go for something extra hardy, like a snake plant or dragon tree.
2. Get some self care sunshine each day
You can’t always count on the UK climate to oblige with daily sunshine, but any exposure to daylight can have a profound effect on your mood and health. Even if it’s tipping it down, daylight shining into your eyes boosts the brain’s production of serotonin, the happiness hormone. So, walk to work if you can, or take a stroll outside after lunch for an instant pick me up.
Regular outdoors time will also ensure you’re making the right amount of melatonin, a hormone that helps you to sleep soundly (to find out more about melatonin, read our blog here) – and getting a decent night’s rest is another self care win.
Being outside will also increase your body’s vitamin D production. But remember that between October and March sunlight in the UK isn’t strong enough for the body to make enough D. Doctors recommend taking a supplement during these months, and our handy vitamin D patch is here – voila!
3. Chat with your BFFs
Busy lives mean that sometimes chatting with friends can get pushed to the bottom of your to-do list – sad times. But speaking regularly with your favourite people should be a priority. It might not seem like self care, but making frequent contact with your besties won’t just bag you friendship brownie points, it’s also directly linked to less stress and better health.
Give your friends a call, or send a text, or email. Scroll their social feeds and comment on what they’re up to. Or forward them that meme that’s been making you chuckle. As well as perking you up and making you feel happier, interacting with friends is also associated with lower blood pressure AND a longer lifespan. THAT’S what friend are for!
4. Cook a meal with what you have in your cupboard right now
Like all the hacks on this list, there are proven mental health benefits to cooking a meal for yourself. Repetitive actions like chopping are calming and preparing food means time out from work and other potential stressors. Plus – setting yourself this challenge makes cooking less of a mundane chore and more fun.
Consider including store cupboard staples like oats, which contain plenty of energy-boosting B vitamins, mood-levelling magnesium, and tryptophan, an amino acid your body can convert into serotonin. Or how about cinnamon? It’s full of antioxidants and has natural anti-inflammatory properties. Garlic is another go-to, with antibacterial, antifungal, and even antiviral powers – perfect for warding off all those cold and flu bugs.
Put away the recipe books, raid the cupboards, and channel your inner Jamie Oliver. Self care never tasted so good.
5. Discover self care supplements
An important part of self care is thinking about your needs and meeting them. How are you feeling right now? At this time of the year, lots of us are tired and lacking in energy and focus. Have you thought about how a supplement could help you feel better?
Our recommendations for January are Vitamin D (scroll back to hack 2 for more on this), which will boost your immune system (essential in cold and flu season), keep your bones strong, and can also help to regulate your mood. B12 is excellent if you’re sluggish, it can give you more get-up-and-go and stamina, and brighten your mood too.
If everything’s getting on top of you, and you’re feeling stressed and anxious, give magnesium a try. The Magna Calm patch will help to level out your mood and encourage restful sleep – essential for optimum mental health. And if you can’t stop procrastinating, the Focus patch is the one. Packed full of brain-boosting vitamins, Omega-3, and nootropics that will enhance your memory, creativity, and motivation. Brain fog be gone!
Our timesaving patches are the most effortless and effective way to get your vitamins. And if you’re counting the pennies, the cost per day is well under £1. Way less than your daily take-out coffee, with lots more benefits.
6. Laugh the January blues away
Did you know that having a giggle each day is one of the best forms of self care out there? Laughing stimulates your body to make endorphins, those feel-good hormones everyone’s chasing. But that’s not all, studies into the effect of laughter on our bodies have also shown it can also help to reduce inflammation and stress hormones, improve circulation, and even boost your immune system – who knew?!
Sometimes (especially in January) it seems like there’s not much to chortle about. So try watching your favourite comedy box sets or movies to raise a smile. Hang out with your silliest friend. Start following funny accounts on social media, or scroll through your photos and find the ones that make you LOL. Having a laugh each day will cheer you up, and also stimulates gamma waves in the brain. Gamma waves are associated with feeling happy, more receptive, and better concentration levels. Turns out laughter really is the best medicine.