“It’s beginning to look a lot like….” Yep you know the rest! We put our decorations up last night, all baring the tree because
we couldn’t be arsed it takes ages and Rigby would only destroy it at some point.
During this season, I notice that people fall into one of two categories:
- Christmas crazy
- Christmas humbug
In previous years I’ve tended to lean more towards humbug, mainly due to the ‘forced fun’ aspect. Office lunches that end up in chaos because Louise in HR had an extra glass of wine and that’ll effect the bill. Plus, some motherf**ker always suggests Secret Santa and I end up spending a tenner on someone I’ve never spoken to. (I always get someone random). Oh God and the Christmas jumper thing. They were so cool and fun at first! Before they became mandatory. Last year the receptionist was actually stopping people on their way in, to check whether they were wearing one. I completely understand that charities need a gimmick, but when did the terror tactics start?
However, despite all of this I’m feeling very festive this year. I plan to start le shopping any day now, (chill I have loads of ideas). The decorations are up and I’m going to Germany this weekend to experience an original Christmas market!
Mainly I just look forward to
presents spending time with the people closest to me, playing board games and eating good food. Seriously how great is spending three days in your pyjamas, eating cheese and watching endless crap on TV? I’m excited already!
This is where I sprinkle some mental health dust… Straight after Christmas comes that other time of year… that dreaded time we don’t speak of or even acknowledge until it hits. The ‘January Blues’ (I can actually feel the recoiling and hisses from readers). YES I realise that it’s awful and God knows how we make it through, but I would like to suggest that we take a moment to indeed acknowledge and prepare for it this year.
The world spends three weeks getting ready for one day in December, I only ask that we spend a few hours preparing for a whole month. The shittest month of the year.
The January blues hits everybody hard, but if you suffer from a mental health condition then it hits that bit harder (think sledge hammer, as opposed to normal hammer).
Down come the fancy lights, the yummy food is gone, it’s cold, dark and as an added bonus, you’re broke because all the money wen’t on Christmas. BOLLOCKS.
So why don’t we take the bull by the horns this year and devise a plan of action? Think code red, or in this case blue.
- Fish – I stock pile on fish and stick it in the freezer. Salmon and trout are especially good. All that over indulging feels wonderful at the time, but it also plays havock with serotonin and hormonal levels. Fish is a great way to replenish goodness in the brain. It doesn’t have to be boring either. I love to make a spicy fish stew with sweet potato, spinach and garlic bread on the side. For recipes ideas read here.
Alternatively, if you hate fish you can always take Omega three suppliments (fish oil).
- Exercise – Yes we all hate the idea, but it works. Exercise creates endorphines and endorphines will make you feel better. If you can’t bear the thought of leaving the house then look on youtube for classes that can be done from your living room.
I only ask that you plan what you’re going to do NOW. Everybody joins the gym in January, making it super expensive. So maybe do it earlier?
Joining a running group is great too, as this creates a support network and accountability. If you’re London based, mental health advocate Bryony Gordon has started a running group for “people who think they can’t run.”Check out Mental Health Mates for more details. www.mentalhealthmates.co.uk
- Light – The brain craves sunshine in January, just when we have so little. Seasonal Affective Disorder is now a recognised mental health issue. The main symptoms are; lack of energy and difficulty concentrating, sleeping too much or bouts of insomnia, overeating and general low mood.
Creating a cosy home environment is super important when it comes to beating the blues, particularly in winter. The Christmas lights might be gone but there are no rules against nice lightening in general. I recently purchased a different set of fairy lights, that will only be put up in January and therefore don’t count as a decoration! Candles are good and soft lamp lightening. Close the curtains as soon as you get in too, keep that dark out.
For the mornings, SAD lamps can be effective. I’ve had mine for the last few years and I definitely notice a difference in my energy levels. This is the one I have, but click here for a list of the current best rated.
- Evening distraction – The evenings are the hardest. Particularly after dinner. Everything is eaten and washed up, and it’s only 8pm.. now what? Be prepared with a selection of pre chosen films, books and boxsets. The key is, pick things that you actually want to watch/read. There’s no point getting lost in the Matrix that is Netflix. You’ll get to page three and feel deflated. Fill the kindle with recommended books and cosy up with a warm drink. Dvds are good. Stick them in another room and don’t touch until January.
- Go easy on the detox – If you’re a mega January detox person, then cool I’m not going to try and lead you astray. I only ask that you think about it logically. Cold turkey is one of the most brutal things ever, for both the body and mind. Not only are you dealing with the blues, you’ve also removed all comforts. Oh and if you slip up once then you’re a disgusting failure, (yep I’ve tried it before).
Rather than a total detox, why don’t you reduce everything by 50%? E.g. Treat one day, detox the next. Or have two designated days a week to indulge. Give the brain something to look forward to. From experience this will keep you motivated and prevent a major relapse or binge.
Take control of January with preparation. Think of it like this – if you know you’re going to fall on your face, make sure there’s a cushion there!
In other news, the book is now back in stock. I was gobsmacked when I heard that the first print run had sold out. Although I was away with the fairies on cold medicine.. so it’s great to hear that I didn’t just imagine it!
Thank you all for your endless support. I still feel nauseous whenever I speak to a journalist, (in case I say something stupid or something gets taken out of context)… but if it spreads the word about mental health awareness, then I’m on it.