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How to Survive the January Depression

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Written By Alex Petrović

Certified Sleep Consultant


3 June 2024 4 min read

With the holiday season coming to a close and the New Year beginning, it's important to talk about how to beat the January depression.

The third Monday of the New Year is known as the Blue Monday, as it's on average the day people tend to feel the saddest. And it makes sense. Some people have dropped their New Year's resolutions by this point, there's hardly any sunlight, and it tends to be way too cold for any fun activities.

So, today we're going to take a look at some general tips that can help you fight off this depressing day and start the year off right!

Tips for improving your mental health during January

While we can't just snap our virtual fingers and make everything better, there are concrete steps you can take in order to better your overall mood. Not all the methods will work for everyone, but hopefully, this will give you a rough idea of where to start.

Get in as much sunlight as you can

An image of sunlight shinning on some clouds

One of the main causes behind the January blues is the lack of sunlight. If you tend to wake up later in the day, it feels like your entire day is spent in darkness. This in turn can make you less willing to go outside, further adding to the feeling of being cooped up and restricting your body from receiving vitamin D.

But just because there are fewer daylight hours doesn't mean that you can't get any light! If you don't have a job, try waking up earlier and going on a walk while the sun is still out. This alone can make January feel like a less depressing month.

And if you do have a job, try keeping the curtains open and sitting next to the window. Even just having natural light come into your office can make you feel a bit better over the long run.

But if that's also not an option for you, all hope is still not lost. With mental health being more talked about in the past few years, a new product has been designed to fix this exact issue. It's called a light box. And as the name suggests, it mimics the emission of natural light and helps fight off seasonal affective disorder. If you want to learn more, just search up light therapy.

Stay active

An image of two people taking a rest on a yoga mat after working out and being active

January blues manifests in a feeling of extreme sluggishness – you don't feel like going outside, working out, or doing anything but sleeping and bingeing your favourite show. However, it's very important to fight these feelings.

After all, working out can be just the boost your mental health needs during these winter months. Working out tends to make you feel like you improve your sleep quality, and can even boost your self-image, which is always a good thing.

So, if you can, look into getting a gym membership. And if that's too inconvenient, there are a million videos online on how to work out from home. Therefore, if you're feeling a bit self-conscious after the holidays and all those family feasts, this might be the perfect time to get yourself into shape.

Try to eat healthy

An image of a healthy meal in a cup.

We can't talk about working out without also mentioning eating healthy. After all, a healthy diet can do wonders for your body and your mind. And to be clear, we don't necessarily mean going on a diet. January is already the most depressing month, and starving yourself isn't going to make it any better.

Rather just make sure that your body is getting what it needs in order to thrive. Instead of junk food, throw in some fresh fruit. And instead of sugary drinks, try some old-fashioned homemade lemonade!

We're sure you've heard all of this before, but a healthy diet will do wonders when it comes to battling your low mood. You'll have more energy throughout the day, a better self-image, and (if that's your goal) you might even lose some weight.

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Better your sleep quality

Although it might seem odd, “better your sleep quality” is one of the best New year's resolutions you could have. And you can literally do it with your eyes closed.

Getting better sleep will not only uplift your spirits and prevent your low mood, but it will also make you feel more energised. Plus, seven hours of quality sleep will beat out ten hours of bad sleep every single time – not to mention that you get more time out of the day as well.

The previous two tips will already take you a long way as far as bettering your sleep quality is concerned, but you can check out our article on the topic of bettering sleep quality if you want a more detailed explanation.


An image of a woman reading a self-help book

Even on the most depressing day of the year, there are still things that you can do in order to help yourself stay on the horse. For example, exercise and a healthy diet.

But you can also ward off the negativity that has hounded you for the past year. For example, you could try jotting down all of your thoughts and feelings in a diary – as having a physical manifestation of your worries can make them seem less threatening.

You could start off each morning with positive affirmations in order to remind yourself that you're worthy and capable of love. Or pick up a new skill and regain that piece of confidence you might have lost during the cold weather.

However, we will note that we aren't talking about severe depression, but rather just feeling sad and down in the dumps. If you suspect that your condition might be more severe than that, we suggest taking a look at the next tip.

Seek professional help

An image of a professional therapist aiding a patient

Although seeking therapy might still seem taboo to some, it's essential if you're having serious depressive episodes. After all, even the best support group can't always help you as much as a certified professional.

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And if you're dealing with other issues as well, like substance abuse, along with an already severe condition, we'd say it's essential that you get some type of help.

And since we know a lot of people suffer from mental stress but don't know how to reach out – we're going to make it as easy as possible. If you want to know about all the mental help hotlines available in the UK, we suggest giving this list a look.

What is Seasonal Affective Disorder?

An image of a deflated balloon with a smiley on it

An important thing to keep in mind when talking about January blues, or the blue Monday, is that this isn't just a figure of speech. Seasonal affective disorder, appropriately acronymised as SAD, is a real diagnosis that affects millions of people from all around the world.

And this is important to know because the last thing you need is to feel like you're all alone in this, or that your symptoms are invalid. SAD affects many people and it's completely normal to feel a bit down or like you have low energy during the end of autumn and into winter.

So, if you're having anxiety about the whole thing, or think that you're the only one suffering, just know that most of us are having the January blues as well and we'll all make it out of here together.

What's causing my low mood?

An image of eggs with drawn on frowny and unhappy faces

On a physical level, three main factors lead to Seasonal affective disorder. First off, the darker months can disrupt your biological clock or circadian rhythm. Not only that, but it can also lead to a drop in serotonin secretion, which can make you feel more down.

And lastly, the changing of the seasons can disrupt your melatonin levels, which can lead to depression and you just generally feeling sad more often. So, whether you opt for therapy, a light box, or even medication – just know that this is a natural thing and that there's aid out there.


And that's how you can stand up to the January Depression! If you have any tips of your own, feel free to leave them in the comments. And if you have any questions, don't hesitate to contact us directly!

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References & resources

About the author

Alex Petrović
Sleep Consultant
A CPD certified Sleep Consultant with more than 2000 hours of research into all the different ways we can get a great night's sleep. As a former insomniac, I know how difficult life can be without a nightly recovery and I love that I get to share everything I've learned with you all. So hopefully we can all sleep soundly!
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