Five ways to beat the January blues

·3-min read

After all the excitement of Christmas and New Year, getting back into work and routine can be difficult.

But if you are feeling particularly sad now that 2022 is underway, know that you are not alone in suffering from what is commonly referred to as the "January blues".

To combat this issue, Feel Good Contacts and business psychologist Jan P. de Jonge have offered up some top tips for kickstarting your resolutions and beating the January slump.

Prepare

Feeling as prepared as possible will help you feel less nervous and more confident.

"At the beginning of each week, make a work schedule. Of course, things are bound to come up at the last moment but outlining a list of tasks will stop you from feeling overwhelmed," he explained. "Schedule no more than 90 per cent of your time instead of 100 per cent; some unexpected tasks are bound to appear, and some jobs take longer than expected. Planned flexibility is part of being prepared."

Get ready for work

Even if you are working from home, it is still important to get dressed and set up at a desk.

"Even if you put on sweatpants and a jumper, putting on your daytime clothes will make a big difference to your mindset. If you work in your pyjamas, you'll still be in 'relax mode' which won't make you feel motivated to get things done," the expert said. "If you work in bed, you may be comfortable - although not for long as you may develop back issues - however, your mind probably won't be in 'work mode'. If you don't have a desk, the dining room table or even the sofa are better places to work than your bed."

Create a routine

Structure makes our brains happy because the patterns and routines we don't have to think about will allow our brain to go into autopilot.

"Establishing a set routine (with some room for flexibility) will give your day some structure. This should make you more efficient, productive and hopefully more at ease in these uncertain times," Jan advised. "A routine is just as important for your mental health as it is for your productivity levels. It can be as simple as getting up at the same time every day, reading a book or doing a workout, making a coffee and breakfast, then setting down to start your workday. Personalise the routine to work for you."

Stay calm

Whenever you feel anxious, stop what you're doing and take a few deep breaths to help you stay calm.

"Concentrate on your breathing. Count to 10. Remind yourself that you are a valued member of the team," he noted, adding that it is also important to get outdoors, even if the weather is bleak. "Seeing the same four walls non-stop isn't good for anyone. Exercise will stop you feeling lethargic from sitting on your rump all day. Try and go for a walk or a run early before the start of the day. Another option is to exercise at lunchtime to refresh yourself in the middle of the day."

Stick to your work hours

It's no secret that too much screen time is harmful to general health.

"Unless you have a particular deadline that you need to hit, you should stick to your structured work hours as much as possible. It's important to be able to relax after your workday and not keep thinking about work. This is easier to do if you shut the laptop and ignore your e-mails from the moment your workday ends," he added. "Finally, try to organise fun and relaxing things for yourself to do after work to help you to slip more easily into 'relax mode.'"

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