January is supposed to be the most depressing month of the year. The winter cold is getting to our bones, we’re starting to feel tired of looking at grey skies, and the next holiday seems lightyears away. I get it. It might not be my favourite time of the year either, but that doesn’t mean I feed myself with pity or apathy and let the January Blues get to me. In fact, I do quite the opposite.
Sure, I acknowledge that my energy is lower than in the summer and hence I do take it a bit easier. I allow myself to feel a bit low in some moments but definitely not all the moments. I curse at the rain and the cold that seems to come day after day, but I still put on my raincoat and go outside anyways.
Why? Because I’m not happy to let the world dictate how I feel. I refuse to accept I should only feel good if there is sunshine. I reject the idea that I’m entitled to feel the ‘winter blues’ and use it as an excuse to not get on with things. I deny the trend that now is the time I should feel blue. You should do the same.
Happiness is not something you only experience in the summer months. Happiness is something you can experience any day of the year or any moment of any day. Why? Because happiness is an inside job.
Your thoughts, your actions, and your perceptions are what dictate how happy you feel. That means that you are responsible for your own happiness. Take this responsibility seriously and you can easily start to do things that naturally boost your mood.
To help you to get started, here are six simple things you can do to up your mood and beat the January blues:
1. Do things that give you joy.
That sounds stupidly simple, doesn’t it? Well, it is. Research has shown, time after time, that one of the quickest ways to up your mood is to do something that you actually enjoy. That means you have to take responsibility for your actions and your calendar, and ensure that you are making time to do the things that give you joy. Reading a good book, catching up with a friend, playing with your kid - whatever the things are that give you joy, make sure you do plenty of them.
2. Connect with your why.
Understanding why you do what you do gives you your biggest and most powerful source of fulfilment. Think both big and small here. Think of your overarching life purpose if you know what it is - and think of all the little things you do daily and what their why’s are. Challenge yourself by asking how you can have even more purpose in your life? What can you do to connect to your life purpose - or to the little things that you do everyday - in a more meaningful way? My mission is to make the world a happier place and hence everything I do every day has to serve that purpose in some way. Smiling to strangers, saying thank you often, offering help when I can - those are all things I do daily to spread more joy. What about you and your why?
3. Notice the beauty.
Look up from this screen and look into your surroundings. What can you see around you that is beautiful? Simply looking at beautiful things has the power to up your mood. Why don’t you make more of a conscious effort to look for the beauty - as well as seek it out? Observe the environment you’re in and find something beautiful in it. Go to art galleries, enjoy beautiful items of clothing, or enjoy the beauty of simplicity. Whatever way you want, make an effort to notice the beauty and let it fill your soul with warmth and inspiration.
4. Say thank you to someone you care about.
As humans, we are social creatures. We need each other not only to survive but to thrive. Yet, we somehow make very little effort to invest in and celebrate our relationships. Which is why I encourage you to do exactly that. Pick someone in your life to give thanks to - and then do exactly that. Have a heart-to-heart conversation with them or send them a letter describing what they mean to you, why you admire them, and what you appreciate about them the most. This will not only boost the connection you two have, but it will also boost the sense of fulfilment you both feel.
5. Smile to three strangers.
Simple yet so powerful. When you smile, you trigger your brain’s reward mechanism, making it produce happy hormones. These happy hormones, in turn, make you feel good, which makes you want to smile even more. This results in even more happy hormones in your body. Basically, one smile can totally shift the energy in your body if you let it - and even in the bodies of others because it’s totally contagious. And, best of all, even a fake smile can start the happy hormone production. Hence, even if you’re feeling frustrated or stressed, forcing yourself to smile can help you to get back into a more positive place. Smile to yourself, to your colleagues, to your loved ones, and even to strangers. Remember to not let the world change your smile but, instead, let your smile change the world.
6. Do one act of self-care today.
You only have one body and being so take good care of it. If you don’t, you are not fit enough to take care of anyone else. It’s time to stop thinking that investing in yourself is selfish. It’s actually the least selfish thing you can do, because you are able to offer so much more of yourself to others when you are in a good, happy state. Never neglect your body or mind, and always let it be your number one priority. Do simple things everyday that refuel you and your being.