How to Beat the January Blues

In my humble opinion, mid-January into February is the worst time of the year. Possibly, because unlike October and December there are no holidays to look forward to. The weather (at least where I am) has you guessing when the next snowstorm is going to hit or how many hours of sunlight there is going to be today. The temperature is cold, the air is fridged and school/work is starting to crush you. I call it the January Blues.

Last year, during my first year of university it hit me really hard and out of nowhere. It was my first time living in such a cold unpredictable climate (it was still cold where I was from, but in Ottawa, the weather can keep you wanting to stay in. I was not prepared for the temperature or the physical and mental effects January threw at me. It affected my motivation, happiness, my sleeping patterns as I would want to sleep for 10-12 hours but struggle to wake up. Speaking to other students, I heard very much of the same thing; January sucks.

This year however I have made it a point to tackle my January blue’s and start off my new year and semester right!

  1. Keep Your Schedule Busy

An idle mind is not your friend during January and the best way to keep your brain from harping on the bad weather is to fill your schedule with stuff to do. Make it a point to try something new each week, plan a dinner with friends, plan your study schedule or pick up more shifts at work. Forcing yourself to try new things in social settings can help distract you and motivate you to a better mood as you now have things to look forward too! Don’t fill your schedule to where you don’t have any ‘down’ time or you feel overwhelmed, but just enough to where you feel excited about what is coming up

For me, I try to visit a new place in Ottawa each week (coffee shop, store, a museum or event) as well as sign up for new clubs and become more involved on campus as the new year is a great time to see what is new to you on campus or in your workplace.

2. Stick to a Routine

Similar to keeping yourself busy, it’s important to keep a routine. Get up at the same time every day, even if you don’t work or have class. Eat breakfast at the same time, brush your teeth in the same order as usual and start doing your work at the point in the day where you feel most productive. Humans are creatures of habit, so sticking to one can help your mind feel less anxious and sluggish during the month.

I try to wake up at 7 every day for class. On days I don’t have class I still wake up at 7 but 7:30 is when I start my work, right after I eat breakfast, and I try to sleep by 10-10:30.  Of course, I always change a few things like activities and what is on the agenda for the day. However, creating routine has helped me feel motivated to accomplish all things I want to do in a day because it all feels possible due to the routine (see…its a cycle). You create a routine to create comfort during an uncomfortable point in the year.

3. Normalize Your Sleep Pattern

Most people had trouble waking up when it is dark outside (I know I did!) so this Christmas my dad bought me an alarm clock that would gradually light up the room 3o minutes before the sound actually went off. To be honest, I don’t know why it works, however, I believe it has something to do with the fact that your brain and body registers that it is starting to get lighter and therefore tricks your brain to wake up. The light simulates natural daylight, but by the time the tone rings your body has registered to get up. A normal alarm clock instantly wakes you up from the sound but can leave you feeling groggy and sluggish (you might even fall back asleep) but the light is a natural approach and doesn’t scare you to wake up.

Mine was bought from Walmart and their fair prices. Regulating your sleep is the most important thing in order to feel better at all times of the year

Philips $69.99 on Amazon

GRDE $38.99 on Amazon

4. Exercise

As apart of that daily routine, make sure to add exercise. It is a great way to unwind from work or school, but also give your brain the positive endorphins that make you feel good and help you sleep better. Try a yoga class, dance class, pilates or spin class if you don’t like the gym or go for a run, walk or do at-home workouts. This will give you something to look forward to after a long day but also help you get out of feeling sluggish and blue.

5. Take in Natural Sunlight and Fresh Air

Although the alarm clock is great! nothing can replace natural light. Make sure to get outside during the warmer times if the day (12:00) and try going for a walk on your break, walking to the grocery store, and don’t neglect the positives of going outside and shovelling the snow. These daily opportunities are important to take advantage of, especially during the winter months

If you know it is going to be a nice one-weekend plan to go skating/winter sporting, walk downtown or visit an outdoor even or market. These are great ways to feel good cause vitamin D is important but also keep you busy and entertained

That’s all the main tips I have, I would like to point out though that I am not a doctor and am simply sharing what worked for me. If your sadness/blueness does persist for long periods of time, lack motivation and struggles to wake up; it is important to speak to your doctor as they can help to provide information on other serious matters that may be affecting you.

I have been burning this candle lately because of its a warm scent that is not too strong


Here are a few little examples and things you can add to your routine

  1. Burn candles as the mimic lights
  2. utilize your lamps at home
  3. read before bed
  4. drink warm beverages before bed and cold ones when you need to wake up
  5. using essential oils such as citrus as it can help wake you up and boost energy
  6. track your sleep, eating, drinking and steps in order to better understand your habits, thus giving you something to look forward to improving or understanding
  7. limit your screen time
  8. try new recipes and eat balanced meals
  9. pick up a new hobby you have always wanted to try
  10. sleep in a room 60-67 degrees F, as this can improve your sleep and ability to wake up

I hope you enjoyed my post and found it helpful. Be sure to comment and share with me what you do to combat the blues. If you liked this post and wanna remember it for later, you can always pin it!

-Ciao, Donatella


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