Eight tips for getting over the January blues

After all the excitement of Christmas and New Year, with the twinkly lights, socialising, food and presents, January can feel like a drab, dreary month.

It’s cold and dark outside a lot of the day, and payday can seem a long way away… and we can often feel a bit down without much to look forward to.

But don’t despair! Here are some things you can do for you and your children to make it a little easier, and sweep away those January blues:

1. Make sure your children get enough sleep
We all know sleep is important for children. In fact, the NHS recommends teenagers get 8-10 hours of sleep per night, and children ages 6 to 12 get between 9 to 12 hours of sleep each night. Having a good bedtime routine is part of that – and can include having a bath before bed, no TV after a certain time, and no phones in bedrooms.

2. Get back into a routine
This will benefit both you and your children. Bedtimes, mealtimes and screen times all go out the window during the school holidays. And that’s okay – we shouldn’t live our lives to a super strict schedule. But when it’s time to go back to school, routine is best for children. Whether it’s getting up early for breakfast, or staying late for after-school clubs and sports, having the regularity of mealtime and bedtimes will help their wellbeing.

3. Keep active
Keeping active is essential for both physical and mental health. If you have teenagers, you know they can often spend hours on their phones, gaming, or revising for exams, so make sure they’re still taking care of themselves physically. Even if your children are already into their sports, try making time to do something active together like going for a family walk. It’ll tire the little ones out, and help you sleep much better.

4. Look after your mental wellbeing
Children often feel the pressure of social media more than anyone, so try to limit their screen time and not allow phones during mealtimes. If you have small children, reading a story before bed is great for their development, and encouraging a good night’s sleep.

5. Get outside
Spending time outside is not only good for our physical wellbeing, but great for our mental health. Natural daylight can work wonders, so when you get a crisp, dry day, seize the opportunity and get out for a brisk walk, jog or bike ride.

6. Make time for fun
It’s always nice to have something to look forward to, so you might consider planning a family holiday or break. You don’t need to go into hibernation in January – and socialising is always good for our mental health. Encourage children to see their friends outside of school, let teens meet up on the weekend, and try arranging an activity for younger children – it could involve a trip to the cinema, the seaside, or woodland walks.

7. Take up a hobby
Keeping your body and mind active with a new hobby can help ward off the winter blues. Try brain-training games like sudoku or crossword puzzles, or you could try learning something new with your children, like knitting or crochet, or cooking and baking.

8. Eat well
Getting the right nutrients in our bodies is incredibly important for physical and mental health during these cold, dark winter months. And keeping cosy is too, so try making nutritious, warming meals like hearty soups and stews with lots of veggies added in. You don’t necessarily need to overhaul your diet, just make some small adjustments to make sure you’re all getting the vitamins and minerals you need to stay well.

So go on – give these tips a go. And before you know it, the daffodils will be coming through, the days will be getting longer, and we’ll all feel the world coming back to life again.