From cooking to clubbing, Mary Horner looks at some of the best ways to beat the January blues.
With the Christmas decorations packed away and 2019 firmly behind us, it can be daunting to look to a month synonymous with debt, dark skies and feeling down.
Although totally cliché, it’s so important to remember that feeling blue after the holidays is completely natural. However, there are plenty of fun activities to get your teeth stuck into, and support available if you need someone to talk to. See how many of these five things you can do in January!
Join a society
The University of Glasgow Refreshers' Week is a fantastic way to socialise and explore some of the 200+ societies the campus has to offer. From karaoke to Ceilidhs, jazz nights to themed nights at Hive, there are tons of inexpensive ways to settle into the new term. Whether you’re looking to become a society member, or just want to dip your toe in the water, Refreshers' Week is an uncomplicated way to meet new people at the University and try something else.
Discover Glasgow’s natural beauty
It’s so easy for people to tell you to do more exercise - but it’s not always as straightforward as it seems. Stress and mental health-related issues can often leave people feeling drained and exhausted, and with the added pressure of university studies, it can be tough to find the motivation to be active; but in Glasgow it really is worth it. There are some brilliant places to explore, such as Dawsholm Park, which boasts 81 acres of unspoilt beauty. There are several woodland paths to explore, as well as a range of hilly and flat terrain.
Those who exercise regularly can look forward to sleeping better, boosting self-esteem and reducing the risk of depression. Simple steps such as taking a scenic wander during a lunch break, or walking home from lectures, fits around your schedule and may help to reduce your carbon footprint!
Put on your chef’s apron
There’s nothing better than burying yourself in soft blankets with a mug of hot soup in hand. Cooking is also a great way to catch up with friends, whether it be cooking together or each bringing a pre-cooked dish: it's a perfect way to hang out with people without feeling the pressures of a night out.
Why not try mug meals? They’re simple, easy to follow, and are perfect for those who don’t have hours to spend in the kitchen. Mug recipes range from healthy granola breakfasts to indulgent brownies – and the best part is that you’re in control of exactly what goes into your meals.
Don’t bottle it up
For many of us, finding someone to talk to about our emotions is tough. The concept of January as a month of sorrow is so ingrained into our minds that many people don’t even think to seek the support they need because, for some of us, winter really is harder.
Seasonal affective disorder occurs during the winter months, when the days are shorter and there is less natural light around. People tend to stay indoors, leading to an increase in feelings of isolation, loneliness and an unmotivating mindset. One way many try to combat this is by increasing your exposure to light, which aims to simulate the sunlight in the summer months. It is suggested that increased light causes the brain to produce more serotonin (a mood-affecting hormone) and reduce the production of melatonin (a hormone that increases fatigue).
Keeping in touch with friends and asking after them is also a great way to maintain social interaction and keep your mind busy. Not everyone will be able to provide the emotional support that you require, but communicating with friends is a fantastic way to combat loneliness and show people that you care about them (even if you can’t solve their problems).
If you are suffering from long-term mental health issues, make sure to book an appointment with the Counselling Services. You may also want to look into the Disability Services, which have resources capable of supporting students by providing coursework extensions or extra time in exams, equipment to aid your studies, and the opportunity to have someone to talk to on a regular basis.
Re-evaluate your New Year's resolution
Without a doubt, we’ve all made promises at the stroke of midnight on NYE that we’ve broken within days. Making resolutions is an awesome way to bring structure to your life and set goals for the future, but saying that, businesses and the media sell us unrealistic goals of what they want us to do rather than what we are capable of achieving.
January is the perfect time to reflect on the things you have learnt from the previous year, and the things you are grateful for. January is a reminder to appreciate the little things in life and acknowledge our achievements (whether that be getting out of bed in the morning or submitting your coursework on time).