January is said to be the most depressing month of the year with the 24th being the most depressing day. Perhaps because the excitement of Christmas is over but it’s still cold and dark? The short wintery days seem to make sense when we’re surrounded by beautiful twinkling lights and sitting in the knowledge that soon there’ll be no university for about a month. But now it’s not so joyous, is it? December was fun, a good excuse to go shopping, buying gifts (for ourselves) with an unrelenting amo
January is said to be the most depressing month of the year with the 24th being the most depressing day. Perhaps because the excitement of Christmas is over but it’s still cold and dark? The short wintery days seem to make sense when we’re surrounded by beautiful twinkling lights and sitting in the knowledge that soon there’ll be no university for about a month. But now it’s not so joyous, is it? December was fun, a good excuse to go shopping, buying gifts (for ourselves) with an unrelenting amount of reasons to go out and be sociable. But now the money has run out, we ate way too much, and unsurprisingly have to start our New Year’s resolutions that we declared spontaneously in all the festive joy.
These issues are perhaps a bit too general though, what about students specifically? Oh yeah, that’s right, we’ve also got exams and deadlines. And we know that student loan isn’t going far as we pay off the overdraft we’ve beautifully been building throughout December. So, how can we fight through this month? Well, the first thing to think about, I guess, is that it’s only a month? We can do this. And in two months, Bournemouth starts to look beautiful as spring blooms. Until then though, here are a few tips to keep us going:
After the madness and excitement of the Christmas period (if you do celebrate this), it feels like a bit of a come down in January. We may look to keep this energy up, but maybe this is a good time to slow down and use this time to rest and recuperate from the craziness of December. Going back to uni means deadlines and exams, so it’s important that we take the time to de-stress and keep anxiety down between uni and study days. It doesn’t necessarily have to be generic stress reducing things like yoga and meditation, because that isn’t easy for everyone, but things like listening to music or podcasts, or watching a tv series or film. Apparently re-watching a familiar series can actually reduce anxiety as it creates a sense of safety and comfort. So, there’s our excuse to watch ‘The Office’ for the 100th time.
Go easy on yourself
If you’re anything like the average person, then you’ve probably eaten way more than you intended over Christmas. And so what? We all did it. Now isn’t the time to be hard on yourself or feel guilty for eating a bit too much cheese over a joyous period. Obviously, our physical health is important, but just take steady steps to getting back to normal. Suddenly eating salad or reducing your portions will only make you more hungry and may mean that you start to binge. If instantly eating healthily again works for you, then ‘go you’, but if it doesn’t and you’re just being hard on yourself, then make small increments to whatever your ‘normal’ diet is. When study stress hits us, the last thing we need to be worrying about is our diet or weight. Take it easy.
Don’t forget to be sociable
It’s important to remember to stay in touch with our friends and not become a complete hermit. Withdrawing socially is one of the top ways to worsen depression, so…don’t do that. For some people going out is the best way to blow off steam, particularly if dancing is involved, which is a great stress reliever as it releases endorphins. There’s plenty of clubs in Bournemouth, but if dancing isn’t what you’re looking for then there’s plenty of quiet pubs to go to if you just fancy a catch up with friends. If money is tight however and you are
absolutely hating the cold, then maybe this is a good time to have movie nights in with friends instead of going to Spoons. There’s plenty of options, so don’t isolate yourself, especially because many of us are feeling the same.
So, it’s cold and dark…and probably raining as you read this but staying inside is not good for our mental health. There’s also a huge amount of research to show that connecting to nature for just 5 minutes a day is a great way to reduce anxiety and depression. We are also very lucky though as we live in Bournemouth, which has a lot of great natural spaces. Talbot woods is quite close to the uni and is a little forest area to explore. Although it’s not the biggest space, it’s still better than Winton highstreet. There’s also Winton recreation ground and Meyrick Park in Winton. In Bournemouth Centre there’s the gardens (the upper gardens are the quietest) and then of course the beach. There’s a lot more to explore in the area, just give yourself some time away from your studies.
Set realistic New Year’s resolutions
Going to the gym or keeping fit is one of the most common New Years resolutions and definitely one of the best ways to stay on top of the January Blues, so if you want to go to the gym, go for it, but don’t put pressure on yourself to go every day. Ease yourself in, going a few times a week, setting steady goals that build up to your expectations. You have the rest of the year (and your life) to be continuing with this, if you go full steam ahead now, then you may burn out and lose interest in the long run. If you know you’re the kind of person that can dive headfirst into something and will stick to it, then by all means, continue with that madness, but for most people that is not sustainable. If you’re worried you won’t stick to even the smallest of fitness goals then find a gym buddy, someone that will hold you accountable and force you on the most challenging days.
Join a society
Fairly self-explanatory, but this may help to keep social and distract from any study anxieties or post December blues.
Lastly, it’s really important to remember that a lot of students are feeling the same way. Although university may feel like quite an individualistic path, this is a time where it might be more helpful to see ourselves as part of a community. It’s okay to rely on each other and in ‘the most depressing month of the year’ it may be the best time to not only reach out, but to practice kindness for others.