Happiness hacks to see you through the January blues
January blues getting you down? From comedy and cold water swimming to light therapy and singing, cheer up this gloomy month…
A good few months of dreary and dark winter days has an unavoidable effect on your mindful state, with a lack of sun having real potential to bring you down with a case of the January blues. Light boxes can help bring a bit of much-needed sunshine to your life. Light therapy is thought to affect brain chemicals linked to mood and sleep and the lamp works to make you feel like you’ve been outside basking in glorious sunshine, giving you that feeling of wakefulness when you’re low on energy. If you’re not tempted by the box idea, consider purchasing a salt lamp which omits a calming sunset glow and therapeutic properties to the room. These can allegedly improve sleep while increasing levels of the happiness chemical, serotonin.
Walks among nature
Seize the great outdoors and venture outside this January and your mental health and mood will inevitably lift. It can be hard to shake yourself awake and force yourself outdoors when the weather is cold and gloomy, but exercise, running, cycling or even just a brisk walk can really shake the blues. Look out for local National Trust properties near you and any special events they may have. Winkworth Arboretum is hosting winter walks all the way through until spring, and there are a series of night runs taking place at NT properties up and down the country. Snowdrops bring a welcome sign of life so head to RHS Wisley for a leisurely walk amid the new blooms.
Join the choir
Whether you pride yourself on having the voice of an angel or not, joining a choir could be the answer to your New Year slump. Studies have found that community singing in groups can do plenty to improve mental health and boost confidence – the perfect antidote to the January blues. There are groups for all age groups and is a good way of getting involved in the local community, developing musical talent and helping boost that feel-good factor. Not only does singing in groups get you out mingling with like-minded people, but it also gets more oxygen into the blood.The Humming Birds are a local Wimbledon women’s choir who offer a friendly space at Wimbledon Park Hall from 8.15 on Monday evenings, where amateur female singers can enjoy a stress-free evening. Contact Alex_howlett@hotmail.com.
When it comes to cheering yourself up when you’re feeling glum, laughter really is the best medicine. Not only can it immediately alter your mood, but it has been proven to lower blood pressure, trigger the release of endorphins and reduce stress hormone levels, and even works your abs as you seize up in a fit of the giggles. London is awash with intimate comedy clubs, with venues including church crypts, unassuming social clubs and the upstairs of friendly pubs. Check out the comedy nights at Battersea Arts Centre, New Wimbledon Theatre’s stand-up nights, the comedy at Half Moon, and for super local, go to the cornerHOUSE in Surbiton where some of Britain’s best-loved comedy stars come to test out their material.
Cold water swimming
For the brave-hearted, an outdoors dip in a natural pond can really get the blood pumping and rejuvenate, leaving you with no reason to feel lethargic and sluggish. Plenty of thrill-seekers are swearing by this method to combat the January blues, so grab your bathers and find a natural pool local to you. You can find wild swimming options aplenty in Surrey, from Dumsey Meadow in Chertsey to Desborough Island near Shepperton. Or head to Tooting Lido. But do read up on safety first as it can be dangerous if you’re unaccustomed: www.outdoorswimmingsociety.com
Jot it down
Writing up a list of your hopes and plans for the year ahead is fantastically cathartic. If you’re feeling fraught about the changes you want to make to your day-to-day life, or have an idea of the hopes and ambitions for the year, pencilling down your thoughts is a mindful way of dealing with the pressure and ticking things off as you go will help you feel calm, relaxed and under control. And compile a top 10 of fun things you want to do this year.
Socialising with good friends
It is understandable if the prospect of socialising post-Christmas is somewhat daunting, particularly if you are lacking in funds or detoxing. But you could always plan to host a party for the end of the month – theme it and get everyone to bring a dish, cocktails and a game. Seeing your friends can immediately liven your spirits. You could even plan a Burns Night Supper.