Everybody knows that January is the most depressive month of the year. As soon as the festivities and long weekends are over, the harsh realities of life sink back in; new working deadlines, more colds and flus going around the office, fewer days of annual leave left as you took them all in December and the lack of sunshine can make us feel a bit shitty to be frank.
If you started a new year’s resolution to become more fit and healthy, you may find that your blue mood will make it really hard for you to stay on track. Well, fear not as there are a few ways to help you make it through the month and I’ve got 10 of them for you to try…
1. Try mindful meditation
It’s just like traditional meditation but a bit more modern and doesn’t involve you sitting in silence for hours cross-legged. There’s loads of books and apps out there that can help you. Even just 5 minutes a day of mindful meditation can help lift your mood.
My favourite mindful meditation techniques are body scans and breath counts. Simple yet extremely effective and you can do them anywhere, anytime of the day.
2. Add yoga to your fitness routine
I’m a big advocate of yoga but not just for the fancy shapes. Yoga is a fabulous exercise that not only strengthens the body, it also helps to calm the mind and helps you to refocus your energy on you. I love sweaty yoga flows as they really help to get the blood circulating, leaving you feeling re-energised, refreshed and like you’ve actually had a workout. I always leave yoga classes feeling much more calm and less stressed too.
If you’ve done yoga before and it’s in your practice, try doing headstands (sirsasana). Going upside down with inversions increases the blood flow to the head which actually helps relieve stress and a bunch of other things. You can find a list of headstand benefits in this article here
3. Go for a walk, jog or run
Increased blood flow results in increased serotonin. This article from Psychology Today mentions that there are four ways to increase serotonin; sunlight, exercise, massage, and remembering happy thoughts – most of which I’ve mentioned in this blog post. 🙂
If you’re finding it hard to stay motivated to your NY fitness resolutions, a simple walk can help lift your mood. Why not grab a friend and a coffee if you fancy some company and a good chat. A walk can clock up some good mileage and burn off a lot of calories too. Walking is also considered as an anaerobic exercise so depending on how long you’ve walked for, you may be able to still burn extra calories long after you’ve stopped walking.
4. Give compliments
New research from Superdrug has revealed that for 6 out of 10 Brits a simple compliment in January is the way to stay motivated with New Year goals, with 88% believing more compliments need to be given in January than any other month to encourage, inspire and motivate during the bleak cold winter.
Dr Becky Spelman, Registered Practitioner Psychologist & member of BABCP backs the findings, saying, “When it comes to getting fit, losing weight, or focusing on our health, positive acknowledgement is very useful. Hearing that we are looking good from people, and that the time and effort we have invested in our health are bearing fruit, actually spurs us on to do even more.”
So why not give your fitness friend some friendly words of encouragement and pay them a compliment or two? Sometimes it can take another person to tell you that you look amazing before you can actually believe it yourself.
5. Get a workout buddy
Two heads are better than one… know that saying? Well it applies in the world of fitness especially if you’re finding that the lack of motivation is creeping in. Having a workout buddy not only pushes you to do better, it also pushes them so you’re both mutually benefitting from it. Empowerment is the way to go so don’t forget to pay your workout buddy a compliment too – they should return it to you if they’re a good partner and you may find it’ll also help you to refocus on your fitness goals.
6. Eat well
This is the time when a lot of people tend to start fad diets in a bid to shift all the extra calories they’d put on over the holidays but it’s really not the way to go if you’re trying to get fit and healthy for the long-term. Yes, you can change your diet but you do it through eating well and eating healthy. You’ll feel loads better on the inside and outside.
Think about your macro-nutrients – eat plenty of protein, opt for complex carbs over simple ones, increase your fibre intake (fruit and veg), cut down on refined sugars and processed foods, and drink more water. If you’re aiming to lose weight, do the above and make sure you’re a caloric deficit (your calorie intake needs to be less than your calorie expenditure) and weight loss and fat loss will occur.
I’m currently enjoying Superdrug’s new health and wellness range, Some Body. They have protein supplements, snacks, and drinks and I’ve been able to try their chocolate protein powder, choc-orange snack bar and pancake mix. Out of the three the snack bar was my fave – nothing beats a chocolate and orange combo! The protein powder was my second fave – it tasted like a melted Mars bar but had 19g of protein and no more than 4g of carbs which is a winner as I like to get my carbs from actual food sources instead of a supplement.
I always mix my protein powder with water and a little bit of nut milk. It wasn’t of a thick milkshake consistency which is just how I like it, if you prefer thick just bulk it up with some oats, banana, chia seeds, natural yoghurt or even ice cream. The pancake mix was easy to use and mixed well – I had mine with a small swig of maple flavoured syrup which was divine.
7. Laugh more
Laughter is the cure for everything – legit. If you’re having a rough day, it only takes a good laugh to lift your spirits a little. Stop the January blues from getting you down by visiting friends, work mates or family members and have a good laugh with them. If that’s not possible, why not try out laughing yoga or laughing classes.
Laughing is contagious and I’m sure these classes will leave you with an aching belly and a happier mind.
8. Catch some sun
A lot of us Brits are affected by the weather. Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) can really leave us feeling low during these darker days. Why not try one of those SAD reducing lights, apparently they do help. Or if you’ve got a little more cash to splash, book yourself a mini-break to a sunnier location. A bit of sunshine will boost your serotonin levels, up your happy hormones and leave you feeling happier and less stressed. I enjoyed a fabulous 5 nights in Ibiza by myself – no kids and no boyfriend and I just lazed around beaches for the entire holiday. I never felt better. I came back a little more calm and a lot more happy.
9. Treat yourself
Whether it’s a spa day, a retail therapy trip to Westfield shopping centre or a night out on the town, do something that makes you happy. Self-care is extremely important for maintaining your wellbeing and keeping you healthy so don’t be afraid to look after yourself first.
For me, I would love a spa day treat or a Drum & Box fitness class at Sweaty Betty’s flagship store, No. 1 Carnaby SB – they have the best classes and their boxing class always leaves me feeling pumped and high on happiness. Their upstairs Farm Girl cafe also offers a range of fabulous hot drinks including a latte black (activated charcoal latte, great for detoxing) and a butterfly matcha latte (no butterflies, just a beautiful blue-hued matcha latte)
10. Change up your workouts
Keeping a fitness diary and/or food diary is one of the best things you can do to keep track of your fitness progress. To keep the blues at bay and motivate yourself to keep fit, plan out your fitness routine for that week. For example, if you wanted to focus on cardio that week, add some new exercises that you’ve not done before to change things up and keep you on your toes.
For me, hitting the gym regularly this month became a chore for me so I didn’t go as much as I usually do but I didn’t beat myself up about it too much. I texted my gym buddy and the next week we were back in there, training as hard as we could. We did our usual routine but added in a few new moves which kept it interesting. Post-workout I felt so good and wondered why I was even hesitant to go and have got my gym spark back again.
I hope these 10 ways to help beat the January blues will come in handy for you. I know it’s verging near the end of the month but that’s not to say you can’t apply them to next month too.
NB. I received a sample of Superdrug’s Some Body products in exchange for this review post. All words are my own and are a true reflection of my personal opinion. The stock photos used have been sourced from Unsplash.