Today is Blue Monday, the day which is claimed to be the most depressing day of the year. Whether or not this is the case is debatable, but what many of us will agree on is that January is difficult. While the start of a new year can give us a brief period of optimism, a lot of us after a few weeks will fall into a lull and start to feel disillusioned.
When winter begins, we have a huge build up to Christmas which gives us something to look forward to. The festive season can be either enjoyable or stressful depending on family dynamics, and afterwards we feel exhausted. Likewise, there’s New Year’s Eve, which can be exciting and optimistic, but equally anticlimactic and tiring. Fast forward to a few weeks into January: the weather is bad, you’ve already had a cold and your well-intentioned New Year’s resolutions have fallen by the wayside. While this time of year can bring us down, there are a few small changes that can make life a bit easier. Here are our top five ways of beating the January blues, succeeding at overcoming the dreaded Blue Monday and getting back on track in 2020.
This recommendation may sound counter-intuitive; however, you might find that giving yourself a second chance can have a massive impact. When we make New Year’s resolutions, we often give ourselves goals that are abstract and difficult to quantify. An example of this is if your resolution is: ‘I want to get fit’. This goal doesn’t give you an indication of what exactly you need to do to achieve this, and therein lies the problem. Instead, try having a quantifiable goal like ‘I want to go for a run twice a week’. When you make goals that are more concrete and achievable, you’ll be more likely to follow through with them.
Once you’ve given yourself a goal which is easier to implement, try a personal habit tracker like Habitify (available on the App Store and on the Google Play store). This app will help you to build new habits and will provide you with reminders to achieve your goals and performance reports so that you can track your progress. When you see the visual representation of your achievements, it’s a great incentive to keep going.
Got a bad case of the January blues? Journaling can help. Various research into journaling has revealed that it can give you a mood boost, enhance your memory, help you to deal with symptoms of depression and improve your overall emotional wellbeing. The process of writing (even if you’re not a writer), can assist you with contextualising your thoughts and feelings, which can then lead you to decide what you want to do next.
Some people prefer to use pen and paper for journaling, while others will prefer the ease of using a smartphone, tablet or computer. The advantage of journaling on your smartphone is that you always have it to hand, so you can start journaling immediately if inspiration strikes. A popular app that we would recommend for journaling is Day One (available on the App Store and on the Google Play store). This app can give you reminders, passcode and fingerprint lock for privacy and cross-platform support (across your phone and desktop).
Cynics would argue that Blue Monday was created by marketing professionals precisely for this reason, however, the benefits of having a holiday to look forward to and the opportunity to recharge when you go are real. Whether you want a cheap long weekend away or a couple of weeks off to recharge on a beach holiday, there are so many options available.
While the prospect of a trip away is likely to appeal to you, the idea of organising it might not. If this is the case, we would recommend an app like TripIt (available on the App Store and on the Google Play store), which will help you to create a travel schedule. To make the most of this app, send your travel confirmation emails to the service, then you will receive an instant travel schedule. You’ll be told exactly where you need to be and at what time, which makes the process of organising a holiday so much easier.
Many of us find January to be a challenging month in terms of personal finances. In the build up to Christmas and throughout December, we are likely to have spent a substantial amount of money on expenses like presents, travelling, meals out and drinks. All of this adds up, and by the time January rolls around, we’re struggling financially, plus we have to wait until the end of a long month for our next pay cheque. What a nightmare.
The good news is that there are ways of managing our personal finances to avoid any potential disasters. One of the most practical ways of doing this is by making a budget. You may be doing this already yourself; however, you might want to consider using an app as this will do most of the work for you. Money Dashboard (available on the App Store and on the Google Play store) allows you to see where your money is going (what you’re spending your money on), create a budget and save. It also allows you to see your balances and transactions from each of your accounts in one place and it can forecast your future balances. All in all, it’s a nifty app that will help you to get your personal finances in order.
Many of our New Year’s resolutions relate to exercise in some way. Whether it’s to be more consistent with an exercise routine or to create a new habit- a lot of us have a strong desire to improve in this area. However, January can be an incredibly difficult time to do it. After Christmas festivities have subsided and we have to face a dark and dreary winter, exercise is often the last thing we feel like doing. However, the benefits are too great to ignore. Exercise goes a long way towards enhancing both your physical and mental wellbeing.
If you’re social media savvy and would like to incorporate this with your fitness regime, try Strava (available on the App Store and on the Google Play store). This app uses features commonly seen on sites like Instagram and couples it with tracking technology. Strava allows you to compare and share your progress with others, or you can keep your results private simply by adjusting the settings. If you find that connecting with others is helpful for getting back into exercise after a period of inactivity, this app will be a good one for you.
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