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Beat the January blues

January can often feel like a bit of a miserable month.  The chances are that the weather isn’t that good, it’s dark and cold and Spring may feel like a long time away.  People often start a new year wanting an immediate radical overhaul of their life and may set ambitious New Year’s resolutions, only to find they are floundering by mid-January if not sooner.  Don’t despair if this is you.

Writing a list of the things in your life that you would like to be different can help to get things into some sort of order.  Which parts of your life that feel like the biggest pressure?  Can you break these down into smaller achievable steps towards achieving the bigger changes?  Which parts of your life can you work on straight away, which might need to wait for a while?

For example, if your job is one thing that is getting you down, are there small changes at work that would help it to feel a bit more manageable, such as a change of hours, access to support at work or a sideways move?  What small steps now would eventually prepare you to follow your dreams, whether that’s returning to study, getting a promotion or new job, or setting up your own business?  First steps might include getting your CV up to date, looking into some part time courses or searching on the internet for “next step” job opportunities, even if they don’t feel like your ultimate goal.  Thinking about the whole picture can often feel a bit much, but working out the smaller steps towards where you want to be can help make things feel more in your control again.  No step is too small: if, for now, your aim needs to be to get out of bed every morning, then that’s OK for now.  Be kind to yourself, you know what you are up against. 

For many, January can also be a time of financial difficulties, especially if the holiday period was difficult to manage.  Taking stock of the situation and asking for some expert advice if needed (such as from Citizens Advice or from your bank) can help you to take charge again and feel like things can be worked out, there can be a plan.  When you are on your own with difficulties they can feel enormous, and asking for help can be a challenge – but when you do, it can be a huge relief, and you can start to look towards the future again.

Whatever January is bringing for you, focus on the small things that lift your mood.  It might be tiny – listening to your favourite music, managing a five-minute walk in the park, phoning a friend who you haven’t spoken to in a while.  You may also start thinking ahead beyond the winter.  If you like to garden then you might be starting to choose seeds; if family or friends are important then you might be booking in some visits; if you like to travel then maybe you are dusting off your guide books or searching the internet for inspiration.  Thinking ahead to the rest of the year can help you to know that the world will warm up again and the light will return.

And if January is very seriously getting you down, there is expert help out there.  Talk to your GP or you can refer yourself to adult NHS IAPT (mental health) services; connect to one of the many community groups in Bristol; phone a helpline (such as The Samaritans).  Whatever you do, don’t be alone with feeling anxious, depressed or stressed.  The Bridge Foundation also offer a fee-paying therapy service for adults, parents, children and families – give us a call on 0117 942410 or drop as an email at


If you need emergency support right now or feel a crisis building please remember you are not alone. You can find more helpful resources below.
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