As the words ‘Happy New Year’ become less and less the norm, so do our good moods. January Blues is not a made up thing, there is actual science out there proving that more people experience feelings of depression and anxiety at this time of year. Partly because we are all so damn skint after Christmas, but also because we’re forced to reflect on our lives or already failing at our self-inflicted over-ambitious resolutions.
This last two weeks in particular can become even more difficult as you await payday with bated breath. If, like us, you are sick of the ‘eat well’ and ‘move more’ tips drowning your newsfeed, we have some top ways to beat the January blues without any of that exercise crap.
1. Be playful: let go and be a big kid
One of the things that you are likely to have done more over Christmas and New Year is play. Whether that’s silly games with family, Monopoly or video gaming - playing is something we associate with the festive period. Sadly, we then immediately abstain from being playful on our return to work, so no wonder we are all moody buggers. If you want to boost your mood then just find a gap in your evening, weekend or lunch break for some playtime. Whether that’s a quick bit of footy, pool or just some card games. Use your imagination, find your inner big kid and add ‘being silly’ to your to do list this week.
While we’re on the subject, when you think about it we often use the term ‘end of play’ for a deadline in the workplace. A jaunty little deadline that your superiors use to frame your work as 'play'. Now, unless you work in gaming, the actual meaning behind this phrase is sadly the exact opposite. An attempt to make your tasks seem more palatable, but actually an unwritten pressure to work late until it’s done. Rant over - now go play already.
2. BE social: Bond with your mates
Why people choose the most depressing month of the year to do ‘Dry January’ is beyond us. If you’ve gone from over-indulging to depriving yourself - no wonder you’re a grumpy pants. Couple abstaining from booze with over-ambitious fitness goals and these January missions tend to get in the way of your social life. While your body may be thankful, your mind is then missing out on essential bonding time with your mates.
We’re not encouraging alcoholism, far from it - but a recent study from Oxford University actually found that drinking in moderation with friends seems to improve overall well being. If you really want to avoid the pub that’s fine too, but make sure you replace those social moments with something else or that lack of bonding with friends will take its toll. Inviting people over for dinner, going on dog walks with friends or having a movie night at home can all be a great way to replace a bevy down the local.
3. BE REAL: Switch off from technology
Technology now has a role to play in every part of our daily lives. It tells us what to eat, when to wake up and consumes us in the workplace. Then we go home and watch our favourite TV series before we go to bed and scroll through our phones. Being surrounded by technology all day can really impact your mood and your quality of sleep. So, it’s no wonder we are struggling. Professor David Hillman, chair of Australia's Sleep Health Foundation explains:
"We've got all these tools. We don't have dark and silence anymore. We have light and activity. And we can have that any time we want. Some of us continue to partition that off from our sleep time but a lot of us don't… The result is a brain that is full on and tries to switch off. But it can't, because it's just overloaded.”
So, if you really want to beat the January blues then try a digital detox at least 90 minutes before bedtime. It will help declutter your mind a little and get a better nights sleep. Even better if you can do a whole afternoon or - shock horror - an entire day without technology. Go on, give it a whirl. You won’t regret it.
4. BE creative: try your hand at some arts & crafts
Anxiety and stress can sometimes manifest when we stop channelling energy into creative and challenging tasks. This is especially true if you are a closet artist, musician or writer who hasn’t had time to enjoy your craft. Whether you’ve always loved drawing, want to learn to play an instrument or still not written that novel you’ve been planning, make time for being creative.
It really doesn’t need to be long, just 30-minutes of creativity a day will do the trick. To help get you in the mood why not plan out a creative corner ready to go with all the tools you need for your craft? This will help encourage you when you have a moment when the dinner is cooking or you’re waiting for your favourite TV show to start.
5. BE FREE: Go outside & shiver your timbers
Yes it’s cold, but it’s also very pretty out there. Get on your warmest woolies and spend more time outside. Not sure where to start? Visiting some of the English Heritage locations could be both stunning and informative. If that’s a bit dull for you then check out some of our alternative winter experience ideas.
Enjoying the outdoors doesn’t have to be a big deal. Just 10-minutes enjoying a good view or taking your dogs a walk in landscape surroundings will help pick up your mood. If you really want to avoid the cold weather then pick a great pub or cafe with a view to hang out at and enjoy the outside from a warm distance.
Are you ready to beat the January blues?
Yes, exercise and a healthy diet could help boost your mood, but try some of these tips and you can stop worrying about ‘being good’ and fast forward to feeling good.
Now, we may be biased but you can actually get three of these in one with one of our escape games. Book yourself an escape room at one of our London or Brighton pub locations and you will be getting in some playtime, bonding with your mates and switching off from technology - sorted.