Blue Monday, the day of the year which is said to be the gloomiest of all. We tend to be feeling rather flat after the festive period, maybe over indulged a little too, our wallets are sure to be feeling even flatter, and the weather (in the Northern Hemisphere anyway) is dampening our mood as well as our plans. The darker evenings and cold mornings makes getting up a challenge in itself. I know I would like nothing more than to press 'off' on the alarm, pull the duvet over me, turn over and go back to sleep for a least an extra hour. Reality is I can't, January is a tough month for many. Whilst some may embrace the 'new year, new you/fresh start' the new year can bring, others suffer with the prospect of the same old reality and can feel lost, unmotivated and just really flat.
For those of us that struggle with the post-festive months and are seeking to banish the Winter Blues in particular, here are five things that help to 'pick me up' when I am feeling despondent, skint, or just need that little 'me' time.
If you are lucky enough to live near water i.e a lake or the beach, take advantage of that. We as a family are fortunate to live by the sea, but we also 'chose' to live by the sea for many reasons, with the main one being its good for the soul and for your health, especially your mental health. Just by looking at that ocean view can have such a positive effect on the state of the mind. There have been endless scientific studies and reports to support this. In England in particular yes it might be pouring with rain, cold and pretty miserable, but if you can somehow look beyond the weather and look towards that horizon line of blue space. I honestly think it helps you to relax, and helps to alleviate the mind of stress. It won't take all your stresses away but I know it certainly helps us. Similarly a sunset, sunrise or the colour 'green' can also have a positive effects. Woodlands, parks, forests - wrap up warm, get out there and let the natural beauty of nature do its amazing thing, with the added bonus of going for a walk along your local beach or spending an hour in your local park doesn't burn a hole in your wallet.
My favourite way to relax when I am at home is to have a good old soak in the bath. I like to light a candle or two, add some beautiful smelling bath gel, which for me at this time of year is Eucalyptus - it helps to clear any stuffy noses whilst making me feel like I am in a Spa at a fraction of the price. Unwinding at the end of the day, surrounded by gorgeously fragranced bubbles and candles is sheer bliss. Sometimes I'll pop some chill-out music on, sometimes I just enjoy the silence. For me its a wonderful way to wash the day and its stresses away, if only for a while, but in that time my mind switches off, my mobile is out of reach and my body totally relaxes.
I have to confess that I am abit of a Candle addict, I have always loved coming home at night, lighting a candle and letting the fragrance fill the room. I remember as a teenager when I lived at home with my parents I always had a candle or two lit in my bedroom when I got home from school or work. They helped me relax then and they still do now. There are so many Candle scents out there, from budget friendly to pure indulgence and luxury. Whatever your budget or preference a good quality candle can assist in inducing a sense of calm and well-being, quietening the mind whilst enjoying the aromas that surround the room.
Put down your phone
Whilst this may not be possible for everyone, I do think its important for those that can. As a society we are now pretty obsessed with our phones, most people would struggle without one. You only have to look whilst you walk down the street at how many people walk with their heads down engrossed in their mobile devices (and often not even looking where they are going). For me being on my mobile is now part of my job, but like any job its important to have that time to switch off. Even if its for a couple of hours in an evening. Instagram, Twitter, Whatsapp - it will all be there when you pick that phone back up, you can soon catch up on anything you may fear you have missed. Theres lots of research that suggest looking at your phone before bed effects your sleep and I do believe this. That 'time' away from your phone can be used in so many ways that may help to clear your mind - get lost in a book, dance around the room to some music, go for a walk, have a conversation with the person next to you (it sounds crazy but you see it so often with a group of people that get together and then they all sit there on their phones ignoring each other, I know I am so guilty of this too). My parents generation survived just fine without apps and social media, and their generation before that. No-one is saying to loose it completely but by putting that phone down maybe an hour before bed and then not looking at it til the next day I think it can certainly help your mind to 'switch off' more easily, which can then improve the quality of your sleep. And I know if I have had a good nights sleep the next day is a whole lot easier to handle.
Create your own Pamper Evening
In the Winter months in particular I set aside one night of the week that is 'mine', in the Spring/Summer months it tends to be a Sunday morning. Granted as a Mum of little ones having some 'me time' in a busy household needs some flexibility, but setting aside 'pamper time' helps me to feel alot more refreshed and less stressed. At the moment Wednesday nights are that 'me time moment'. Its like a mid-week celebration of making it that far through the school runs, homework and dinner time meltdowns, with the weekend in sight. Once the kids are in bed, Hubbie makes dinner for the 2 of us whilst I pretty much do many of the above points I have mentioned in this Blog post. I lock the bathroom door, dim the lights, light a candle or two, run myself a long hot bubble bath and just relax. Sometimes I pop on a face mask, sometimes a hair mask, sometimes I just lie there soaking up the silence and aromas. Once out I then smoother myself in lotions, potions, oils, I paint my nails and potter round the bedroom taking my time. The Hubbie and I have dinner, then we chill on the sofa (phones down) with a glass of red (because why not?!), and watch a few episodes of my favourite programme Modern Family before bed. Its simple, its inexpensive, but it works - that one night a week is like a breathe of fresh air. The ironing can wait, the dishwasher can wait, and I really do feel more rejuvenated, refreshed and relaxed. My mind switches off, I always sleep so much better and as a result the whole family benefits. The next day its back to busy, busy, busy, but by allowing myself those few precious hours of 'timeout indulgence' each week it really does make a calming difference.