The 9 Challenges Of January – Part 3

The 9 Challenges Of January – Part 3

by Dr Emma Gray - 29th January, 2015

In the first two parts of this blog we looked at why January can be such an emotionally and psychologically challenging time. In this final part we will look at how to overcome these challenges and protect yourself from negative emotions that may spiral into depression and anxiety.

1. Dealing with Christmas
Make preparing for the psychological and emotional challenges of Christmas as much a part of your pre-festivities as putting up your tree. Measure your expectations for the time with your family based on your actual family not the ones that you see in the media.

Try to anticipate specific flashpoint and prepare a strategy for dealing with them that will result in the least amount of stress and upset for you.

Also, ensure that your days have some focus and structure, something that allows you to feel a least a small sense of achievement at the end of each day, for example a brisk walk that will clear your mind of the complexities of family life and offers some probably, much needed exercise.

Alternatively use the extra time to read that book that you have been meaning to. Finally, remember, no experience is all one thing, either good or bad, so expect a slightly bitter sweet experience at Christmas, accept that this is normal and then aim to let go of the bitter and seek out and hold on to the sweet.

2. Have something to look forward to
Change the feel of January by filling it with frequent little treats to look forward to, the next bank holiday is a long way off. Something to look forward to in the not too distant future will draw your mind away from the daily grind and pull you towards it creating positive energy and motivation to push through what is immediately in front of you.

3. Embrace the weather
Try to find the positives in the cold days and dark evenings of January, enjoy wrapping up warm, cosy nights in, seasonal foods, the contrast with summer. If the weather prevents you from engaging in enjoyable activities/hobbies, find others that are more seasonally appropriate. The weather will do what it will do, we can either choose to embrace this and make the most of it or let it drag us down into depression.

4. Change your expectations for January
First, ensure that any ‘resolutions’ or life style changes are achievable and sustainable, there is nothing more depressing than setting ourselves up to fail and maybe consider postponing more challenging changes to a different time of the year.

Second, accept that you may need to work a little harder to staved off depression and anxiety in January and plan for this, a plan prepared in advance is always more effective than one cobbled together at the last minute or no plan at all.

To recap the previous parts of this article, click below to navigate.


Dr Emma Gray

Dr Emma Gray

I am often the first person with whom my patients share significant and intimate thoughts and memories; I never take that privileged position for granted nor the opportunity to help someone to feel better about themselves and discover a more fulfilling life. One of my colleague once described me as natural psychologist; I guess she was alluding to the fact that I feel at ease being a therapist, I can empathise with people’s distress and discomfort but don’t feel overwhelmed by it, I can understand their problem and know how to help, it has always just felt like what I should be doing.


Read more about my approach to counselling here...


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