How To Beat The January Blues
Feeling under the weather? You’re not alone. About 6% of us are diagnosed with seasonal depression every January, and loads more say that they struggle with uncharacteristically low mood at this time of year.
The exact reasons for this seasonal slump aren’t fully understood, but the general consensus seems to be that a combination of financial pressure, fatigue and post-Christmas stress conspire to leave us feeling down in the dumps. Psychologists also think that the stress of going back to work after a happy, festive period might be enough to leave us feeling sluggish, miserable or uninspired.
Sound familiar? Don’t panic just yet! We want to make sure you feel like your best self 100% of the time, so we’ve pulled together a list of 10 funk-busting strategies that’ll see you through January. Most of these top tips have a strong scientific backing, and we’ve done everything we can to keep things nice and simple so that you can hit the ground running, and fight off those January blues.
Several scientific studies have shown that increasing your exposure to natural light can quickly reverse low mood. This is because your body needs natural light to create hormones like serotonin – an important molecule that’s sometimes called the happy chemical because it contributes to feelings of well being and satisfaction.
According to the medical experts at Your.MD, exposure to natural light is thought to trigger a corresponding increase in serotonin levels, which means that people who spend more time outdoors tend to be much happier
You don’t need much natural light to trigger serotonin production either. 20-30 minutes per day is more than enough so don’t fret about reinventing your schedule. Instead, the experts recommend trying to find 5-10 minute slots where you can leave your desk, and take a short walk outdoors. You should feel fresh and energized almost immediately, and the long term benefits are fairly profound!
Detox your hair
There’s a well established link between the health of your hair, your self-esteem and your general mood. Sadly cold winter weather and the year-round use of heavy hair products can leave your hair looking dry and dishevelled come January. To boost your mood and your hair health, many experts recommend doing a bit of a hair detox at this time of year and we think that’s a great idea, particularly if you have noticed an increase in bad hair days!
One of the best ways to detox your hair is to explore deep cleaning shampoos like Designline’s weightless shampoo, and the corresponding conditioner. These products are formulated to dig deep down, and flush out all the nasty build up you’re suffering from. They can also put some much-needed moisture back into your hair and help to repair your hair’s cuticle layer, which will protect it from further damage.
Our expert stylists rate these products very highly, and they’re often used in salon treatments which makes them a great fit for a new year’s pamper session. If your hair’s coloured, you could also look at using something like KMS Colour Vitality Shampoo to boost pigment, and freshen up your look. After a couple of detox sessions, you’ll notice brighter, more vibrant hair and you may also notice a corresponding lift in your self-esteem. It’s a simple fix, but it’s also an effective one, particularly if you try it in conjunction with some of the other tips in this article!
Set realistic resolutions
Setting a new year’s resolution can be a great way to focus your energy and keep things positive. Unfortunately, unrealistic or unachievable resolutions tend to have the opposite effect.
According to Nikos Ntoumanis – professor of Exercise & Sport Psychology at the University of Birmingham – most of us “have good intentions to achieve our goals, but many of us get side-tracked or easily disappointed and do not follow through our plans.” This can actually exacerbate problems with low mood, and encourage a negative spiral that leaves you feeling worse than you would have felt if you’d neglected to make a resolution altogether.
So, can we benefit from the mood boost associated with making a new year’s resolution without risking the negativity associated with failure? According to professor Ntoumanis, it’s definitely possible. He says that the secret is to set goals that “are realistic, specific, and have a short-term and long-term focus”, as well as being “flexible with our goals and adjusting them when faced with failure to prevent giving up altogether.”
Try something new
Studies published by University College London suggest that trying new things can help to encourage a positive outlook. We’re not quite sure why this works, but scientists think it’s probably linked to self-esteem and ideas about self-worth. Put simply, doing something new activates new pathways in your brain and forces it to reevaluate your situation in a fresh light. If you’re doing something productive and beneficial, experts like Larry Alton think that’s probably enough to trigger a cascade of happy hormones and reconfigure your mindset.
In a sense, you’re tricking your brain into shaking off its funk. The “new” thing doesn’t have to be drastic either. Some people suggest learning a new skill or taking up a sport but research shows that small changes can have just as much impact on your mental health. Even something as simple as a new hairstyle, blow dry or manicure could reinvigorate your brain and ease you into a more positive mindset.
If you’re feeling super-daring, pop into your local Regis salon and ask our stylists about a bold new hair colour. You could also shake things up with a restyle, or just start a brand-new skincare regime with an exciting new serum.
Plan a Holiday
You know that giddy, excited feeling you get once you start browsing hotels and plane tickets? Research shows that it’s actually a scientific phenomenon, and proves that you can actually boost your mood by planning a getaway.
In fact, a study conducted by the Journal of Applied Research for Quality of Life showed that going through the process of picking a holiday destination, exploring travel options and researching local attractions could boost happiness for around eight weeks. The boost itself is fairly significant too. Of the 17,000 people involved in the study, 50% said they found booking a holiday more rewarding than getting a new job, and 43% even said it beat getting engaged!
Relax with a hair mask
Pamper sessions are strongly associated with better mental health; they give you time to kick back, and they also leave you looking rejuvenated which has been shown to help boost self-esteem and mental health.
Pamper sessions don’t have to be hours long either. If you use a deep-cleaning hair mask like Tigi’s Resurrection Treatment, you can be done in half an hour, which is still more than enough time to let your brain reset. You could also explore opportunities to try skin rejuvenating treatments like Elmis Fruit Active Rejuvenating Mask.
Did you know that the first person to explore the January blues was actually convinced that mindfulness was the key to restoring a sense of happiness and wellbeing? Apparently, Dr Norman Rosenthal is a firm believer in the power of self-reflection and modern psychologists are equally convinced that scheduling time to sit down and reflect on your life could be key to fighting low mood.
You don’t have to learn how to meditate either – modern mindfulness techniques involve sitting down in a quiet place, and just working through your thoughts.
According to the folks over at The Mindfulness Project, it’s often helpful to start by asking whether you’ve done enough to pamper yourself, or indulged in enough self care. Apparently, this is one of the leading causes of low mood and it’s a really easy issue to fix – just pop into your local Salon for a bit of a pamper session, or try out something like Elmis’ Cellular Recovery skin capsules for a bit of an at-home spa day.
A tried and true remedy for low mood, exercise is known to have a very positive effect on your mental wellbeing, even if the thought of engaging with a brand-new regime is a little gruelling. According to some experts, exercise is actually one of the best ways to boost so-called “happy hormones” like serotonin, and it’s also been shown to improve your immune function too.
Best of all though, regular exercise helps to reset your circadian rhythm. Your circadian rhythms govern sleep, but they’ve also been linked to your happiness and research into their full importance is still ongoing. Unfortunately, the low light we experience in January can have a huge impact on your circadian rhythm, so doing something that helps to keep them in-line with your body’s natural setting can be tremendously helpful.
You don’t have to do that much exercise either. Experts say 20 minutes per day is enough to have a positive impact, and you can choose to do anything from walking to swimming or even weight lifting. Just remember to use a hydrating shampoo after every session, otherwise you’ll wind up struggling with itchy scalp syndrome!
Despite all the rain, January can be a surprisingly dry month. Central heating tends to suck the moisture out of indoor spaces and icy temperatures actually increase the rate of dehydration which means that your hair and your body tend to lose a lot of water. Long term, dehydrated hair can become dry and frizzy which is never good for your self confidence, and there is a strong link between actual dehydration and low energy levels too.
Fortunately, dehydration is relatively easy to tackle. You can fix your hair by using a good moisturising hair treatment – like Tigi’s Urban Antidotes Recovery Mask – and your body’s moisture levels can be restored by drinking between 6-8 glasses of fluid everyday. Just be careful to avoid drinks that contain diuretics like caffeine, as they will actually exacerbate the problem.
If you follow these guidelines, your hair should regain its natural lustre, and you may also notice a corresponding lift in your overall mood.
Book in some ‘me time’ at your local salon
Few things beat an hour or two in the chair; laying back with your eyes closed as an expert massages some of the industry’s best care products into your hair. Far from being an idle luxury, these pamper sessions are also proven to boost your mental wellbeing by:
If you’re really struggling with the January blues, contact your local salon and book an appointment. Our stylists will be more than happy to help you unwind, and you’ll leave feeling like a new person too, which is always a plus!