Beat the January blues

9 January 2023

With the Christmas holidays over, January can be a time of anxiety and loneliness for many. Here are a few tips for beating the January blues.

Female sitting in the couch with their head in their hands

Today is the first day of term 2. Christmas has passed and a new year (2023) has started. Normally, this is a time of anticipation and excitement about meeting our new year’s resolutions, whether eating healthier, getting fit, reading more, or travelling. However, this is also a time when many students experience the post-Christmas or January blues – including feelings of anxiety, distress, loneliness, and sadness. If you are feeling a bit down, alone, anxious, distressed, or lonely here are a few tips for beating the January blues.

Avoid being alone

The new year is as good a time as any for reaching out to family and friends to help you shake off the blues. If you are feeling a bit lonely it may help if you asked a friend or your colleagues if they would like to watch a movie, attend an event, or even study together. You can also consider joining one of the clubs or societies at UCL and this is a great way for connecting with or meeting new people.

It may also help if you disconnected from social media for a bit, especially if you find that comparing yourself to others is making you feel sad and depressed. But do use any available social media platforms (e.g., Facetime, LinkedIn Telegram, WhatsApp) to talk to someone, to call your family and friends, and to connect to other people.

Eat healthy and exercise regularly

Eating healthy and exercising can help you feel better. January is a time for reversing all the unhealthy holiday eating and its okay to cut out chocolates, saturated fats, sugary foods and drinks, and eat less salt. However, instead of depriving yourself of things you like, try eating a balanced diet throughout the month. Eat regularly (i.e., don’t skip breakfast), eat more fruits and vegetables, and drink more water If you are successful, try extending this through other months.

Eating well alongside exercising regularly can help improve your emotional, mental, and physical health. Regular exercise “may [also] help reduce your risk of getting a serious health condition.” So get moving – this can help you release feel-good endorphins and raise your spirits.

Work on your new year’s resolutions

There is a chance that you haven’t yet made good on your New Year’s resolution or have already broken it. If your resolution is to get healthy and take better care of yourself, it is important to get off to a good start. Consider your resolution(s): is it realistic? What is your plan for achieving this? How will you deal with the temptation to skip exercise or to fall back to unhealthy eating habits? Practice positive thinking, remind yourself of the importance of sticking to your goal(s), and track your progress by keeping track of each small success. If you are finding this difficult, try breaking the resolution into smaller short-term goals - so focus on losing a pound a week instead of on losing 20 or 30 pounds. If you slip, don’t beat yourself up and keep trying.

Plan a short holiday or visit family or a friend

Sometimes a short holiday or time away can help you feel better and get reinvigorated. There are lots of travel deals currently available so check the newspapers or travel agencies for these. Alternatively, you can visit family or friends in the U.K. or Europe but if the latter, check visa and travel requirements and give yourself enough time to apply for any visas. Or just book yourself a spa retreat for the day.

Sign up for our Beat the January Blues events

The Student Support and Wellbeing team has several activities planned during the week of 16th to 20th January - Beat the January Blues week. If you have not already done so, you may want to sign up for candle making or crocheting and knitting sessions (Monday 16th January), the 7 am sunrise walk (Wednesday 18th January), or the comedy evening (Friday 20th January). Read more here https://www.ucl.ac.uk/students/news/2022/oct/student-support-and-wellbeing-events-2022-23#Blues

How UCL Student Support and Wellbeing can help

If you’re finding it difficult to beat the January blues, know that you are not alone. If you need counselling, support, or just advice make an appointment with one of our caring wellbeing advisers or, if you are living in UCL accommodations, speak to  your Student Resident Adviser.