January Blues: 10 Tips For Improving Your Mood And Dealing With Anxiety
I originally wrote this post in January 2015, and I thought I'd review it and add bits in that I have learnt over the past 2 years. It's funny really because, although my worries were probably quite different back then, it's scarily similar to how I am feeling now. I think January is a time when everyone feels down in the dumps. Christmas is over, and it's time to get back to normality. A lot of people feel quite motivated by the start of a new year, but I always seem to feel down and anxious about the year ahead. And 2017 is no different.
Here are a few tricks that 2015 me and 2017 me came up with to help with low moods, anxiety and depression. I'm not in any way qualified, and these aren't 'cures' by any stretch of the imagination; they're just little things that you can do to improve how you feel on a low day. There is also a list of resources at the bottom to get professional help, if you feel you need it.
1. Get out of bed.
The hardest part. And this is much easier said than done, especially on certain days. But, once you do it, I promise that you will feel instantly a bit better. Sometimes I have to actually throw myself out of bed in the morning to be able to start my day. Sometimes I'm glad when I need to pee first thing in the morning because it means I will get about of bed. It's a nightmare.
Another trick I have learnt over the years is to not (and I repeat do not) get back into that bed. Plump your pillows, pull-up your duvet and make it look lovely so you won't want to lay back down and spoil it. It also makes me feel like I've accomplished the first task of the day, which motivates me to carry on.
2. Clear the space around you.
Now, we're all different. But, on my most anxious days, I always like tidying and cleaning the space around me. It makes my head feel a lot less cluttered and I physically have more room to think and process my thoughts. It could be something as simple as tidying up your desk or dresser or having a complete sort out your wardrobe. I find that taking back control of your environment can go a long way in helping calm your mind.
3. Clean and pamper yourself.
Even though this is a little embarrassing to admit, I have been known to spend days moping around in bed or around the house without properly showering or cleaning. This only makes me feel worse, but for some reason, it's still hard to haul myself up and get a bloody shower. Break the cycle by turning that shower on, getting your favourite smelling shower gel and have a good wash! I promise that you'll feel 1000x better afterwards. Is it just me or does standing under hot water really clear your head? I have some of my best thoughts and ideas in the bathroom.
A quick tip (especially for bloggers). Keep a box of all those lovely product samples that you've been meaning to try and use them on days like these.
4. Create a relaxing and stress-free environment.
After you've done all of the above, it's time to surround yourself with things that you love. I personally love lighting a candle, switching my fairy lights on and listening to music or an audiobook.
2017 edit: I've also recently been taking up therapeutic crafts such as sewing and pom pom making. It keeps my hands busy and my thoughts positive.
5. Make a list of today's achievements.
For most of my life, I have been in education (i.e. worked in my bedroom) or worked from home. This can result in me getting worried that I haven't achieved enough that day, or that I 'could have done more'. Instead of making a to-do list (although this also helps me focus my mind), make a 'I have achieved' list. Bullet journals are great for this; write down what you want to achieve, what you have achieved and then write your hopes for tomorrow too. Does anyone else cheat on to do lists and put things on there that they've already done so that they can cross them out?
6. Go for a walk.
As I mentioned before, I often spend days and days inside my house without venturing out. I have to admit, it makes me an inventive cook because I often wait until I only have a cup-of-soup and some old broccoli in my cupboard before I venture out food shopping. Once I get out of the house though I usually instantly feel better. Just getting some fresh air and actually taking that step outside can really boost my mood. Also, exercise is supposed to release happy endorphins, but I'm not fully convinced about that yet - all I seem to release is sweat!
2017 edit: Now that I work from home, I often make myself go to my local coffee shop a few mornings a week. Just sitting there on my own, with my laptop, around other people makes me feel a whole lot better and even 'sociable'. If you want more tips on motivating yourself when you work from home please check out this blog post I wrote.
Organising things with a friend or family member can be a breath of fresh air during stressful times. It's true, sometimes when I feel like complete crap, the last thing I want to do is go and act happy with a group of friends. But, if they are a good pal then they won't mind meeting up with you for a brew, even if you haven't drawn your eyebrows on straight and your hair is a bit greasy! If you don't have that option, the world of technology has your back: join in on a Twitter chat or FaceTime your mum.
8. Put your worries into perspective.
What I have said so far have been quick 'distractions', which is sometimes all you need to get through the day. However, by taking a step back from your anxieties, you may be able to gain a little perspective and feel a lot better in the long run. Ask yourself if you're concerns are rational, and if you personally can do anything to solve them.
For example, I worry about deadlines for work. What can I do to solve this issue? Complete the work. I also worry about things like terrorism and climate change. What can I do to solve this issue at 4AM on a Tuesday morning? Nothing, so try not to think about it.
Luckily, I have a good group of people around me who I can ask if I'm being rational. My boyfriend is very rational, in fact, sometimes he's a little too rational. But, we balance each other out rather nicely.
On the same note, don't let anyone tell you that you're being 'silly' or 'crazy'. If you have actually been diagnosed with anxiety, depression or something similar, then it's not your fault that you feel this way. Sure, you can do lots to help yourself and distract yourself, but sometimes there's not much that you can do to stop that knot in your stomach or cloud
9. Have a cry and be sad.
This may sound completely hypocritical, but sometimes I just need a bit of a cry to let my emotions out. The feeling will pass and it always gets better, the hard part it just not knowing whether that will be a few hours, a day, a week or longer.
10. Talk to someone.
I was considering leaving this tip out as this is the one thing I struggle with the most. Sure, I blab about how I feel to my mum, my boyfriend and some of my close friends, as well as mentioning it on here and social media from time to time, but, the thought of seeing a professional really freaks me out. I was offered a few years ago to go to a group therapy session, but admittedly I declined because it scares me.
Here are a few online resources where you can seek professional advice help:
Mind A website where you can get reliable information and support on mental health issues. www.mind.org.uk
Time to Change Articles and resources to help end mental health stigma www.time-to-change.org.uk
Samaritans Support for low moods and suicidal thoughts. www.samaritans.org UK Number: 116 123
NHS The NHS also have a useful guide to accessing mental health services on their website.
If you have any tips for dealing with anxiety, share them in the comments below.