By Ruby Mae Pales, 3rd third year Psychology NTU student
After all the fun and festivities of December – we are hit with January, a dull, cold, dark start to the year and you may be left feeling a little deflated. With pressures of reinventing your life with the new year new me, a crash diet and new exercise routine, it can be difficult to navigate the month of January in terms of your mental health. Settling back into a university routine after so much time at home can be difficult too particularly with the stress of those January assignments. Here I will be giving my top tips to make January a great month and formulate a healthy self-care routine to reduce those January blues!
It’s okay not to make any big changes in January
My first recommendation is to remember its okay not to change anything in your life! Remember, you don’t need to start a hardcore gym training routine, eat healthily, or set unachievable goals just because it is the beginning of a new year. Don’t put pressure on yourself, as January is hard enough already without unhealthy expectations fuelled by what we see on social media. If you want to try something new for example a new exercise regime, you can start this at any time of the year, it doesn’t have to be the 1st of January! Also, try to limit social media usage as seeing everyone setting their new year goals and being ‘productive’ can negatively affect your well-being.
Practice a small self-care routine
Whether this is cooking yourself your favourite meal, watching a film that makes you feel good, reading a new book or going for a mindful walk-in nature, whatever makes you feel good. Taking that extra time to look after ourselves in January is needed to keep positive and happy throughout the month.
Getting outside is important especially in winter when the days feel short, and it is getting dark by 4pm! However, getting outside even for a 15-minute walk can massively benefit your mental health, and sunlight exposure is great for your physical health for vitamin D. Set aside some time each day to go for a walk, it’s a great form of exercise too. Research has found that nature and the great outdoors can improve our mood and mental health, particularly in winter months.
Getting into a routine back at university
Set up a routine when you are back at university. It is easy to feel a little lost back at university after getting comfortable back at home. However, setting small goals for each day and setting time aside for university work can help you settle back into university life. Scheduling when assignments and essays are due will save the last-minute stress and help you manage your time. Also, catching up with friends after Christmas will help to ease those January blues.
Check in with friends and family
Finally, when everyone is back at work or education in January it is easy to lose touch, so make sure to check in on friends and family, whether that be by dropping a text to see how they are doing or organising something fun to do in January to look forward to, such as a day out with a friend or a cosy evening in. You might not realise how much they appreciate this!
Hopefully these tips will make the month of January more positive without setting unrealistic goals that we may struggle to achieve. Remember you are doing great as you are and there is no need to change aspects of your life just because it is January. After enjoying the festivities and Christmas, hopefully you can still make January a productive and positive month with these tips.
For help, advice and resources whilst studying at NTU, take a look at the following for sources of support.
- Support from NTU
- Self-Care books in NTU’s libraries
- Silvercloud: SilverCloud is our online system designed to help with a range of mental health issues.
- Health and Wellbeing resources
- NTSU Information and Advice service
- Wellness in Mind: Advice and support for anyone in Nottingham experiencing issues with their mental wellbeing
- Student Minds or Student Space
- 10 Keys to happiness