January has long been known as the most depressing month of the year. The festive holidays are behind us, wallets are squeezed, and it’s still dark for a large chunk of the day.
This year, January is gloomier than usual. Coronavirus has taken a toll on people’s health and finances, and many families didn’t have the Christmas they hoped for.
If your mental health is suffering, it’s time to take action. Here are ten top tips to help you beat the January blues.
1. Do more exercise
When you’re feeling low, it can be hard to get up the motivation to exercise. But studies show exercise can benefit your body and mind.
According to the Mental Health Foundation, regular exercise can increase self-esteem, reduce stress and anxiety, prevent the development of mental health problems, and improve the quality of life for those experiencing mental health issues.
Exercise doesn’t have to mean running a marathon. Just ten minutes of brisk walking can increase your mental alertness, energy, and positive mood.
2. Spend time outdoors
There’s nothing like a dose of fresh air to help you feel refreshed and invigorated. In fact, studies compiled by Mind suggest spending time in nature can help with mental health problems such as anxiety and depression.
Being outside in natural light is especially helpful if you suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). This is a type of depression that kicks in during winter.
Next time you fancy a cup of tea, why not wrap up warm, sit in your garden, and enjoy the quiet calm of nature?
3. Socialise (virtually)
Nothing can replace meeting friends and family face-to-face. But if you’re missing your loved ones during the pandemic, it might be time to embrace virtual meet-ups.
Video chatting can take a bit of getting used to, however, seeing those familiar faces could really boost your mood. Once you’ve got into the swing of it, you could even arrange activities together, such as a virtual quiz, cooking session, or film night. It’s a great way of staving off loneliness.
4. Take control of your finances
Studies show there’s a close link between people’s mental and financial health. The Money and Mental Health Policy Institute has found financial difficulties are a common cause of stress and drastically reduce recovery times for common mental health conditions.
To improve the state of your finances this year, here are some steps to consider:
- Create a spending budget
- Pay off expensive debt
- Build up an emergency fund
- Pay into a pension
- Invest in a Stocks and Shares ISA.
Taking control of your finances will give you peace of mind that you’re living within your means and saving for your future.
5. Improve your sleeping habits
Getting enough sleep is really important when it comes to fighting the January blues. According to The Priory Group, missed sleep can lead to low mood, anxiety, erratic behaviour, and psychotic episodes.
Some tips to improve your sleeping habits include sleeping and waking at regular times each day, limiting caffeine and alcohol near bedtime, going to bed when you’re drowsy, and avoiding electronic devices late at night.
6. Eat healthier
What you eat can affect your physical health and mental wellbeing. Too much sugar and processed food can make you feel sluggish.
The NHS has produced an Eatwell Guide, showing how to achieve a healthy, balanced diet. This includes eating at least five portions of fruit and veg each day, basing meals on starchy carbs like potatoes and pasta, and including some dairy and protein. Aim for six to eight glasses of water each day.
7. Sort out your will and protection
If you’re worried about how your finances would hold up if illness or death were to strike, it may be taking a toll on your mental health. The pandemic has really brought to light the financial hardship that death and illness can cause.
Taking out protection is a great way of shielding you and your family from financial shocks. Life insurance pays out a lump sum to your dependants when you die. They could use it to pay off the mortgage or other debts and cover the costs of your funeral. Critical Illness Cover and Income Protection can help you cope with the financial burden of serious illnesses.
You can also get peace of mind by writing a will. This will ensure your money, property and other assets go to the right people when you die. If you have children, you can make sure they’re cared for by people you trust.
8. Reduce your alcohol intake
Having the odd drink can help you feel relaxed. However, regular, heavy drinking can contribute to feelings of depression and anxiety, and it makes stress harder to deal with.
To keep the health risks from alcohol to a low level, you shouldn’t regularly drink more than 14 units a week. That’s the equivalent of six pints of beer or six medium glasses of wine.
Ideally, you should have several drink-free evenings each week.
9. Download a mindfulness app
Taking part in a mindfulness meditation could help you tackle the January blues.
Mindfulness teaches you to be aware of your own thoughts and feelings, and the world around you. It may help you to view your life in a more positive manner and enjoy things you’ve previously taken for granted.
Some Mindfulness apps to try are Headspace, Calm, buddhify, and Sattva.
10. Call your financial planner
Calling your financial planner when you’re feeling low might sound odd, but research shows there’s a link between mental wellbeing and financial advice.
A survey by Royal London found that financial advice helps to improve people’s emotional wellbeing by making them feel more confident and in control of their financial future. For example, 41% of respondents who hadn’t received advice said they often felt anxious when thinking about their household finances. This fell to 32% among those who had received advice.
People who received advice were also less worried about being able to cope financially in retirement, more prepared to cope with life’s shocks, and more likely to feel financially secure and stable.
Get in touch
At Ardent, we can help you look to the future with confidence. We’ll make sure your goals are on track, check your money is working as it should be, protect you and your family from financial shocks, and look for ways to preserve and pass on your wealth to loved ones.
For more information, email email@example.com or call 01904 655330.
The value of your investments (and any income from them) can go down as well as up and you may not get back the full amount you invested. Past performance is not a reliable indicator of future performance. Investments should be considered over the longer term and should fit in with your overall attitude to risk and financial circumstances.