Health & wellbeing

What are the ‘January blues’ and what can we do to feel better?

17 Jan 2022 | Written by By Kathy Feest


As the second Monday of January rolls around, we approach the day that many have dubbed ‘Blue Monday’ – supposedly the point of the New Year at which many of us may start feeling less positive about the year ahead. In this article, member and self-development mentor Kathy Feest shares her wisdom on how we can acknowledge low feelings and the ways we can seek help.

Perfect! The topic of the day is beating the January blues, and here it is January and for the umpteenth day in a row it’s been mizzy and grey and gloomy and I admit I’m feeling just a tiny bit blue.  It won’t last – it never does, but a few useful tips on how to start feeling a bit better , why the blues are  here in the first place and why on earth it’s called “feeling blue” in the first place seem called for.  The last one is the easiest to resolve, so let’s start there.  

The expression “Feeling blue” has come from the sea!  Not the colour of the waves, as it happens, but according to several sources, the term comes from a time when deepwater ships ploughed the oceans.  If a Captain was lost at sea (by dying, not by not knowing his way back to shore) the ship would fly blue flags, and those onboard would paint a blue band along the hull of the boat that was visible to all when she returned from her voyage and landed back in port.  Spare a thought for the poor Captain, and I bet you’re feeling a bit better already!

Sometimes we have feelings that are less than joyous and they aren’t the most fun to deal with, but they are a part of life.  Was it the end of the holiday season or perhaps the relentless march of Covid that caused your slump?  I only felt pale blue, not deep deep blue, but you know the feeling; slightly off colour, a bit more irritable than usual and just generally fed up. 

There is a radical difference, however,  between feeling a bit low and blue and feeling depressed:  “Depression lasts longer than two weeks, doesn’t usually go away on its own, and impacts your life. It’s a real illness, and it is very treatable. It’s important to seek help if you’re concerned about depression.” (https://www.heretohelp.bc.ca/q-and-a/whats-the-difference-between-sadness-and-depression) If you are unable to get on with your normal life after about two weeks perhaps you need to talk to someone?  Here are a few ways you can do that (all of these resources are from the UK Mind Website, a great place to start if you need help and support: https://www.mind.org.uk/ ):

  • SANEline. If you’re experiencing a mental health problem or supporting someone else, you can call SANEline on 0300 304 7000 (4.30pm–10.30pm every day).
  • Switchboard. If you identify as gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender, you can call Switchboard on 0300 330 0630 (10am–10pm every day), Phone operators all identify as LGBT+.
  • C.A.L.L. If you live in Wales, you can call the Community Advice and Listening Line (C.A.L.L.) on 0800 132 737 (open 24/7) or you can text ‘help’ followed by a question to 81066.
  • Samaritans. To talk about anything that is upsetting you, you can contact Samaritans 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. You can call 116 123 (free from any phone), 

Knowing the source of your dis-ease helps as you begin to take those steps back to feeling fine and dandy once more. You might think that whatever knocks someone else sideways seems trivial, but then they might sail through what makes you flounder.  We are all unique. 

Sometimes it doesn’t take much to lift us up and back on form.  For two years now, my husband and I have stayed away from restaurants. There are no unstructured “oh lets go grab a meal out tonight” moments. Fed up with planning another meal, and not wanting to cook for the nth time yet again, it niggled at me.  When I recognised it wasn’t the cooking or the planning, but the lack of spontaneity in my life that was getting to me, resolution soon followed. We had a “let’s have a take away tonight” spontaneous moment!  Duh.  No cooking or planning for a night was a side benefit.  Once you identify the issue you can do something about it.  Pizza as a solution?  Why not?! 

If you’re feeling low, see if you can identify why and then DO something about it. In the meantime, do something.  Action always beats inaction. Don’t forget the amazing resources that are available at  The Joy Club.  All sorts of opportunities await you on this very website.  Go and explore them and once you’ve nailed what it is that is keeping you from feeling grand, you might chuckle at what could be a very simple solution.  Pizza? Or chatting with some other members of The Joy Club over a coffee? Who would have thought!  

Then there’s the  British weather.  Well, that’s a whole other issue…but at least the days are lengthening! As I write this the sun has come out at last!  Sometimes you just have to hang in there. And be grateful when you find your solution.   I don’t even like pizza very much…but it worked. Enjoy! 

With love

Kathy x

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