Debbie enjoys fresh air and light whilst playing with her horses in the snow
Tackling the January blues

Yes, I know I’m a bit late with this, and it’s now February, but I confess. I hate January!

The endless rain, the days when it never actually feels light, being house bound after 4pm. In the summer months I live in the garden and just sleep in the house, I have endless energy, sport a tan and potter in the allotment till 10pm. I’m happy.

Having had the high of Christmas I suffer from the low of January. I feel exhausted by 9am and I’m miserable about the weather and those long dark nights where binge watching Netflix seems like the only solution.

I know I’m not alone so what can we do to tackle these January blues….

 

1  Step away from the sugar! Last year I did sugar-free Jan. Overall it wasn’t as hard as I thought it would be and so I extended it to Feb and March. The result – 26lbs lost for good. For me, it was easy immediately after the over indulgence of the festive season to kick sugar into touch, but by week 3 I hit a bit of a wall. The depressing weather made left over Christmas chocolates very tempting, but eating high sugar foods will only succeeds in spiking our blood sugar levels, leading to a big plunge afterwards and it’s during that plunge that we will end up feeling worse than we did before, with added tiredness thrown in as well. My go to snack that got me through these moments of gloom was a sliced banana with thick Greek yogurt and a generous helping of chopped nuts and a small drizzle of honey (I only cut out our refined sugar). It felt like a healthy knickerbocker glory.

 

2  Having chatted to friends I know I’m not alone in feeling constantly shattered by week 3 of January so it’s time to stock up on Vitamin D. In England, especially in the winter months, 1 in 5 adults are considered to have inadequate Vitamin D. levels. As 90% of our Vitamin D. requirement comes from sunlight, January is really not a great month… Amongst other things, low levels of Vitamin D. can cause low mood. The Public Health England guidelines now state that adults should have 10 micrograms (mcg) of vitamin D EVERY day.

 

3  Avoid alcohol! Well if you are doing sugar free this is a given, however alcohol is a depressant, so the last thing we need especially if we are feeling low already, is to drink something that’s going to make us feel worse, not only today but tomorrow.

 

4  In the winter months, comfort foods rule in our house but that’s no bad thing as carbohydrate rich foods such as brown rice, porridge, whole wheat pasta & bread and starchy vegetables are high in Serotonin. This is a hormone in our body that effects mood so by increasing this happy hormone, we can positively affect our frame of mind.

 

5  Start a new hobby. Many of us make ambitious resolutions at this time of year. “This year I will walk all the Wainwrights” etc … but it’s much less daunting to have a January hobby that helps fill these dark evenings. In my case it’s researching my family tree. I started 3 Januaries ago and I revisit it picking up where I left off.

 

6  Walking outside. Research shows the huge link between being outside in nature and improved mood. It’s said that 95% of people interviewed felt their mood improved after spending time outside and being connected to nature, changing from stressed, depressed and anxious, to calmer and more balanced. Weather permitting, try and spend at least 10 minutes outside, ideally in a green space.

 

7  Hydrate, Hydrate, Hydrate. Dehydration effects mood, concentration and energy levels so the last thing we need to be in January is dehydrated! Take a bottle or flask to work and leave on your desk to sip throughout the day. If like me, you are not a big water lover and prefer hot drinks at this time of year, add lemon or fresh mint and have it warm to trick yourself into thinking its tea. Remember, 5% dehydration in the body negatively impacts on our mood.

It won’t be too long before the snow drops make way for the daffodils, the hour ‘springs forward’ and the swallows arrive lifting my spirits, until then I’ll keep eating the nuts, drinking the water and researching my ancestors.

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