So today, Monday 19th January is reckoned to be the most depressing day of the year. Reasons given are that it is usually very cold, the Christmas spirit is waning and people are realising they have not kept some of their new year resolutions.

Let’s start with resolutions. Setting unattainable goals is a precursor to depression Those prone to this devastating mental illness may set targets in the thought that this will keep them out of the new year trough of despair. But failing to keep resolutions can lead to loss of self esteem, a feeling of failure and a sense of ‘here we go again’.

If you do want to set resolutions, make them simple and achievable. For someone prone to new year blues, this could be to ‘go to bed earlier’ and ‘to get up earlier’, the first helping the second resolution to be achieved.

Avoid closed statements in resolutions such as ‘get up at 8am’ which allows for no flexibility on a bad day. To be ‘in bed by 10.30’ will not work on a night when you have been to the cinema or have friends round.

Ideal resolutions would include:

  • Keep a diary and make at least one positive entry each day – something done or planned.
  • Write down three positive thoughts each day
  • Go for a walk each day for at least 20 minutes. Increase the time gradually.
  • Walk in the late morning when the sun is at its best and temperatures are mild.
  • Don’t economise on heating. Being cold can lead to confusion.
  • Arrange to meet a friend or friends at least once a week.
  • Join a group such as a painting group or walking group.
  • Avoid junk and processed food.
  • Eat fruit and vegetables every day.
  • Keep a mood diary. There are charts available but a range of -5 through 0 to +5 is the best. The one below is coloured. The green area signifies a normal mood, yellow is where the mood is higher but is not affecting function. Light blue is the ‘low’ mood area but again does not affect function. Dark blue at the foot of the chart would indicate deep depression. For those with Bi Polar the bright pink/orange would indicate mania.

Keeping a mood diary is useful if you need to see a doctor about your depression. However, you should be keeping a diary of events, encounters, stressful times, upsets etc so that this can be viewed alongside. For example, if you have fallen out with your partner one day, it would be perfectly normal for your mood to sink into the lower green/light blue area.

 As for the waning Christmas spirit, some people find this festive season stressful with family difficulties and reminders of those who are no longer in our lives for a variety of reasons. Try to plan some outings for January which will help ease your depression.

 For those who are physically ill or disabled, reading self help books and using social media to keep in touch with others should help mood.

 Let’s hope the rest of January is good for you.