The holidays are over, school is back and working lives have resumed for many. How do you feel? 

If you type ‘January Blues’ into any search engine there are hundreds of articles, memes and blogs about how to combat the feeling, the science behind it and what is means for your mood. There is also plenty of info around about the phobia of returning to work after the December break. 

Why is it that January brings such trepidation to so many? 

I think it’s more complex than it seems. There are so many possible contributing factors. Some examples could be, money worries after festive spending, people may have broken New Year’s resolutions by mid-January, winter weather has well and truly set in, you’re back to a work routine after a break, you are not enjoying your job, you are struggling to find work or perhaps your body may be feeling the effects of excesses and the party season. 

The University of Exeter’s Mood Disorder Centre gave some guidance on the topic which makes absolute sense to me. They said that “depressed mood is often exacerbated by a perception of a gap between how someone wants things to be and how they actually are. These actual-ideal discrepancies are highlighted at this time of year.” 

It feels like we spend a good 4-6 weeks preparing for the end of December and the beginning of January and when it’s all done and dusted – there is a marked feeling of negativity and lowness for many people. 

I have long thought that it’s crazy that we feel we should punctuate our world with these set periods and dates in a year. We build up to them for weeks and weeks and then we feel the after-effects when what we perceive to be ‘normal life’ resumes. 

Trying to work out a way to live more continually and in the moment, could help to combat these highs and lows. Being able to see the end of December as just a few days in our year and that January is just another month could alter how you feel about the ups and downs attached to the whole ‘festive’ period. 

When it comes to the business of New Year’s resolutions – why do we put so much pressure on ourselves to create a brand-new version of ourselves specifically starting in January? If throughout the year we stumble across things that we would like to add to our lives, alter or give up – I firmly believe that setting those goals and working towards them there and then would be better practice than piling undue pressure on yourself to achieve them – simply because it’s January. The impact of failing or breaking a resolution will certainly play on your mind and add to any low mood you may experience in January. If you feel like you want to make a change in your life on a random Saturday in April or October – then work out the plan, set yourself targets and get going with it. Once you’ve achieved that goal – you can move on to the next thing you’re looking at conquering.  You will feel the benefits of achieving your targets frequently and set yourself up with good habits. 

There is power in positivity – and there is no better day to start thinking positively, than today.