The January Blues: How to lift your mood.

The festive season is over, it’s back to work for some and it is still dark outside – no wonder January feels like the gloomiest month of the year. Add to that freezing weather, feelings of loneliness and failed resolutions, and it’s no surprise that lots of us are feeling out of sorts and low. The good news is that it takes less effort than you think to lift your mood. Here are the three reasons from why you might have those January blues and ways to beat them.

1) Weight gain over Christmas Studies have shown we can gain as much as five to seven pounds over the Christmas week alone. How to turn it around: Festive weight gain doesn’t have to be permanent, according to Karl Simpson, Fitness Manager at the Virgin Active Health Club in Broadgate.

‘Following a sensible healthy eating plan with exercise, most people can lose approximately 2lb per week – that’s nearly all your Christmas weight gain in three weeks. Cut back to three smaller meals a day and two snacks equalling around 1500 calories per day (2000 calories if you’re a man).’

If you’re desperate to lose the weight at a faster rate, try the following:

• cut out treats such as your morning coffee and muffin

• reduce sweet snacks to once a week

• limit alcohol because it restricts the number of calories that can be burned off.

2) New Year over-analysis Self-reflection at this time of year can make us all focus on what’s wrong with our life, leading us to set unrealistic goals to become our ‘ideal’ person. Small wonder, then, that a third of us lose our resolve to keep our resolutions within a week. How to turn it around: Although self-improvement is important, going overboard can backfire. To lift your morale and gain perspective, life coach Fiona Harrold suggests making a list of everything that is already great with your life, taking stock of all that you feel grateful for right now.

‘It’s healthy to feel motivated to make changes at the beginning of a New Year,’ says Fiona, ‘but avoid the mistake of only focusing on what’s missing in your life. Balance your drive for change with an appreciation of the here-and-now and your sense of disillusionment will go.

3) It’s cold and dark outside Seasonal affective disorder, or the winter blues, is thought to affect up to two million people in the UK as the lack of natural sunlight leads us to feel depressed and lethargic. How to turn it around: There is hope: the days are already getting longer, and January averages less rain and more hours of sunshine than December. Boost your mood by making a lunchtime walk a daily habit. Just 30 minutes of natural light, even weak winter sunlight, can be enough to make you feel happier and energised. Don’t let the wintry weather put you off your exercise routine either.

‘When it’s cold and dark outside, it is much more tempting to curl up on the sofa than to put on your tracksuit and brave the elements,’ says fitness coach Kristoph Thompson. ‘But exercise leaves you happier and more motivated. ‘Always have a backup plan so if your outside exercise is impossible due to weather conditions, you know what to do instead. Swimming makes a good plan B if it’s too rainy to run. ‘Where possible, aim to exercise during daylight hours, whether it’s before work, in your lunch break or at the weekend.’


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