The 9 Challenges Of January – Part 2

The 9 Challenges Of January – Part 2

by Dr Emma Gray - 21st January, 2019

In the first part of this blog we looked at four of the reasons that in January people feel more anxious and depressed that at any other time of the month. In this second part we will look at a further five.

1. Nothing to look forward to
The simple truth is that on a day to day basis our lives are reasonably repetitive; as mentioned in part one of this blog we set things up in this way because as a society it makes us feel safer and more in control and therefore more productive.

However, the downside of this daily grind is a sense of tedium. With no light at the end of this tunnel of monotony we things can quickly start feel a little flat and even for those without a history of mental health problems, this flatness can turn into something more akin to depression.

In January many of the things that we look forward to feel like a long way off, holidays, the summer and of course Christmas as a result January can feel like a waste land of negativity.

2. Weather
It is a well-known fact that the weather can affect our mood so much so that the cause of a specific mental health disorder is at attributed to a lack of light; Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). For many of us in January it will be dark both when we leave the house in the morning and when we return and this coupled with a plethora of glooming wet days does little to lift our spirits.

Many people also find that the weather in January prevents them from engaging in outdoor activities that are pivotal to their health and wellbeing and an absence of such opportunities over an extended period can quickly have an adverse effect on mood.

3. New Year’s resolutions
Usually around mid-January most of our New Year’s resolutions will have fallen by the way side, leaving us with anything from a mild sense of irritation at our lack of resolve to an overwhelming sense of failure, particular if the resolution was connected in some way to our self-esteem (e.g. weight loss).

New Year’s resolutions are a risky business, particularly as we often see the new year as an opportunity to make a ‘new start’ and so set goals that are unrealistic and unsustainable.

4. Permission to feel depressed
It may sometimes seem as if we are being given permission to feel depressed in January. An example of this is the concept of ‘Blue Monday’; this is the third Monday in January and is thought to be the most depressing day of the year, apparently calculated using a number of factors including weather, debt, time since Christmas and time since failing New Year’s resolutions.

Another concept is Janxiety or January-based anxiety which supposedly includes symptoms such as tiredness, money worries and nostalgia about Christmas. Permission to be miserable can introduce a sense of comradery, a sense that we are all in the same boat but for some, usually those with pre-existing problems with anxiety and depression, it can sap the last little bit of motivation that they have to drag themselves out of bed in the morning.

In the final part of this blog we will look at how to make the most of January and minimise your risk of feeling anxious and depressed.

Click below to navigate to the first and third part of this multi part article, Part 3 of this blog will look at how to make the most of January and minimise your risk of feeling anxious and depressed.

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 colleagues once described me as a 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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