I used to view the month of January as a nemesis. I viewed it as a cold, dark month bereft of any good holidays or other redeeming features. When the calendar would roll around to the month, I'd grit my teeth and tell myself that, once the month was over, I'd gotten past the worst of winter. At best, I viewed it as a challenge to be overcome.
Several years ago, I decided that I'd had enough of hating January. I decided to shift my thinking about it. After all, the hours of sunlight are increasing all month. For that reason, I labeled January as the start of "very early spring." I began to use the month to do a deep "spring cleaning" and rearranged my home. Once I was done with that, I treated myself to pouring over seed catologs and planning my garden. Before I knew it, January was starting to grow on me. I began to look forward to the month. Now, it feels like this great opportunity to get a fresh start and an early jump on spring.
What's your least favorite month? Can you think of a way to reframe it? Or, at least, better ways to care for yourself during that month? Some ideas:
1) Make a list of projects to save for that month (e.g. reorganizing the attic, refinishing a piece of furniture, going through closets for items to donate.)
2) Find ways to keep your body moving, regardless of the weather. Exercise is an essential part of good mental health. Think about joining a gym or buying some exercise equipment for home.
3) Find positive associations for the month. Maybe you love reading. Make yourself a cozy reading spot and a list of books to read. Buy some tea or snacks. If you're a gardener, like me, sign up to get some new seed catologs. No interests coming to mind? Maybe you could use the month to start a new hobby. Consider trying my husband's 28 day challenge.
4) Get outdoors. This is a hard one, but a little time in nature does a lot of good. It's easy to talk yourself out of going for a walk if you're not properly dressed for the weather. Invest in some clothes that work for your hard month.
5) Practice self-acceptance. You may not totally succeed in finding a way to enjoy your tough month. You may fall short of your goals for exercise or getting outdoors. That's okay. Criticizing yourself will only make you less likely to succeed. Instead, revise your goals and re-dedicate yourself to good self-care.
For some, seasonal changes trigger more than the blues or irritabilty. If seasonal changes trigger moderate to severe mood or anxiety issues for you, please seek help from a mental health professional. Anniversaries of loss and trauma can contribute to this. Working with a therapist can help you understand your seasonal triggers and better overcome them.