The January blues are multiplied by ten at the moment. The world is currently a pretty upsetting place to be in, so an already pretty depressing time is made all the worse by the dark, short days, the isolation and all awful things we're seeing a hearing on the news each day.
What is important is that we look after ourselves. There are small things we can do to our daily routine to mind our mental health. These little things can make a big difference to our mood, mindset and attitudes.
It’s definitely harder than usual now to motivate ourselves to get up and get moving. But with gyms closed and workout classes no longer running, it's hard to get the right amount of exercise to keep our spirits up. Do an online Pilates or yoga class virtually with a friend, or book an online HIIT class, whatever strikes your fancy – just get moving!
Go for a walk.
With working from home taking up our days and cold mornings and evenings taking over, we all shudder at the thought of heading out into the wintry air. But just getting that little bit extra vitamin D from the sunlight and fresh air every day could totally change your whole mood. Pop out for a quick stroll around the block on lunch times to waken up and be fresh for the afternoon. Good for digestion, energy and sleep, there’s really no excuse not to.
Not in a ‘new year new you’ insane diet overhaul kind of way. Just be conscious of the choices you’re making in relation to the foods you’re choosing to nourish your body with. This is not about weight loss or perfect bodies, but much more about brain food, gut food, all the things that are going to make your body feel its best in these trying times. If you're a major burger and chips fans, maybe some sort of healthier version might pique your interest.
Easier said than done, right? We need 7-9 hours of sleep a night in order to complete 4-5 90-minute sleep cycles. Keeping these cycles uninterrupted is the key to experiencing that ‘good night’s sleep’ feeling. The first step in getting a night’s sleep is regulating your body. It is essential that your body and brain begin to expect a shut-down and wake-up call at the same time every day. Being on a phone or screen late at night is another culprit. Experts recommend reading a book or doing a meditation for at least an hour before bed in order to really get a great, restful sleep.
This one is so much harder these days, but stress and pressure can make some people turn inwards instead of outwards to where the support is. You may be on Zoom meetign all day, so it may seem like you're getting plenty of socialisation, but really, it’s not the same as a relaxed, social conversation. Try to do a couple of Zoom calls with close friends outside of working hours, so you can have a real catch up and maybe even realise everyone is in the same boat now. It's not the same as meeting up in person, but it's the best we can do for now.
Do things you enjoy
If you can get some exercise and complete your work every day, then you're doing well. But make sure there is time to do the things that you want to do too- not necessarily self-improvement things, like that yoga class, or learning a new recipe – unless that’s something you genuinely enjoy. I’m talking about relaxing things. Read that book you've wanted to get at for ages, or that trashy Netflix show that requires no thinking whatsoever. Not everything they do has to be productive.
Focus on your strengths
Praise yourself. Let yourself know you're doing a great job and that these are stressful times and you're rising to the occasion. If you really want to get into it, start a journal, writing about the things you like about yourself, your achievements, the things you’ve done well recently. Affirmations are also great ways to get into positive mindsets about ourselves. I am good enough, the work I do is good enough, I am enough. Whatever works for you.
Have a routine
Let work be work and play be play. There is no need for these two lives to intersect. If there is one thing it is vital for you to do, now that home is both your work space and your chill zone, is to set boundaries between the different parts of your life. Set aside certain hours and times in a timetable to be strictly adhered to. When work is over, the items associated with it go away too and then it is time for food, relaxing activities and friends or family. Make sure to create a very clear structure so that you can truly ‘switch off’ and unwind from school mode.
Don’t be too hard on yourself
January brings with it its own set of pressures. Resolutions, willpower and promises might be crumbling around us right now and that’s okay. Wanted to get up hours earlier than usual to complete an intricate and gruelling workout routine, but can barely drag yourself out of bed on time for work? That’s okay! We’re going through a time of international crisis, stress and fear. There is only so much any of us can do. Find wins in the small things – you made a healthy meal, or got out for a walk today, or finished all your work. Go you!