Avoiding the January blues

Has the winter got you down? After a long holiday season, the winter months of January and February can sometimes leave you feeling sad, bored, or even depressed. Where do these feelings come from? How do you stop them?

Sometimes called the January Blues, these feelings can stem from many sources, according to the Guardian. Some scientists have suggested that longer periods of darkness in the winter can lead to increased production of melatonin in the brain. Melatonin causes you to feel sleepy and unmotivated, according to WebMD.

The decreased sugar intake may also be a culprit. Eating more sugary foods are common during the holidays, causing increased production of feel-good chemicals serotonin and dopamine in the brain. However, many of us give up such treats at the start of the New Year, or just aren’t eating quite so many of them as before, and our bodies, which have gotten used to higher levels of happy-chemicals, are left wanting more.

There are other suggested causes, like unrealistic New Year’s resolutions, or the ended hype after Christmas, or even the pressure of Valentine’s Day. Whatever the cause, it’s never pleasant.

So how do you fight the January blues? There are a few practical steps you can take to feel better.

First, try to get more sun. Even a half hour outdoors can improve your mood. Bundle up and take a walk, and then grab a hot beverage at the Cali.

Exercise is especially important. Regular exercise can replace all those chemicals that you’d normally get after a sugar binge, with the added bonus that it’s actually good for you.

Spending time with friends is also important. Even if you’re an introvert, contact with other people can seriously buck up your spirits. Plan a little time to watch some funny cat videos, or have a meal together.

If these tips don’t work, ask someone for help. On rare occasions, the January Blues can be a sign of more serious problems. If nothing seems to be working, talk to your doctor, or take advantage of the eight free counseling sessions offered by the professionals at the Counseling Office.

Finally, and most importantly, don’t forget to make time for God. Daily quiet time for Bible reading and worship can refocus your priorities. Remember to pray, and ask your friends to pray for you.