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6 Tips For Expats Looking To Ward Off The January Blues

January blues

Blue Monday was a term coined by psychologist Dr Cliff Arnal in 2004.  He worked out a formula to show how the third Monday in January is the most depressing day of the year. It takes into account factors including the average time for New Year’s resolutions to fail, the bad weather, debt, the time since Christmas and motivational levels.  Here William Cooper gives tips on how to deal with the January blues.

Written by William Cooper of William Russell

Get more light 

“If your winter blues stem from a lack of daylight, it’s no surprise that getting some extra light during the day can help you feel better. Get outside as often as possible, especially if the sun is out. Sitting by a window can help if you work indoors most of the day.

“Light therapy is often used to treat seasonal affective disorder (SAD). SAD is a type of seasonal depression that often becomes more severe in the winter. Light therapy involves sitting in front of or beneath a light box that produces a very bright light. Your GP can give you more information if your symptoms resemble SAD.

Eat well

“Those January blues can often make us crave sugary foods and carbohydrates to lift our spirits. However, eating as healthy as possible can boost your mood and reduce mild depression. Ensure you include plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables in your diet. 

“Making simple changes, like eating more nutrient-dense meals high in fibre and vegetables, and cutting back on fast foods and refined sugars, can help you avoid the negative psychological effects of a ‘junk food’ diet.

Get active

“The positive mental health effects of eating healthy are much more significant when combined with regular exercise. Evidence further suggests that 30 minutes of vigorous exercise 3 times a week is effective against depression. 

“For those with a tendency towards the winter blues, outdoor exercise will have a double benefit because you’ll gain some exposure to sunlight, too. Research has shown that a simple one-hour walk in the middle of the day is an effective way to beat the winter blues.

Embrace the local culture as an expat

“To avoid feeling lonely, get stuck into local cultural experiences. Take advantage of the many different ways people celebrate the festive period where you’re now living and make new friends along the way. You can even share with them how you would celebrate back home. 

“Check out what events might be happening around you and get stuck in.

Spend the day with other expats

“There may be many other expats near your area who could also feel a little lonely, especially as the January blues set in. Why not organise to meet up with other expats to share your experiences?

“This is a great way to keep busy, make friends, and ward off any creeping feelings of loneliness and low mood. 

Do things to remind you of home

“While it’s a great idea to immerse yourself in local culture to make new friends and have new experiences, there’s no harm in doing things to remind you of home if this helps make you feel better during the blue winter months.