January is a month filled with optimism. It’s also a month filled with inherent challenges that can cause us to feel pressure, disappointment and failure if we get too caught up in the idea of it being “a new year” and with it, significant changes and differences in areas of our lives that we are navigating.

What makes January a difficult month? A number of things:

  • The holidays are behind us: Connecting with people and celebrating the season has passed and there can be a sense of loneliness.
  • The darkness of winter: Our waking hours are filled with shorter, colder days and less hours of sunlight can lower our moods.
  • Work stress: Getting back into the post-holiday routine can mean playing catch up from vacation time or starting a new fiscal quarter with pressures to meet or exceed quotas.
  • School pressures: Post-secondary students may be feeling stress or anxiety around beginning new courses with new instructors, new schedules and new expectations.
  • Financial challenges: As January credit card statements come in from holiday or vacation spending, financial pressures can increase.
  • New Year’s resolutions: While many people make New Year’s resolutions, they may involve unrealistic goals or focus on negative behaviours or judgements about ourselves. This creates pressure and fear of failure.

Yes, it is a new calendar year, but how much meaning we choose to give that can make a big difference in our experience of this inherently challenging month.

Here are some things you can do to help create a kinder, gentler new year for yourself and your loved ones:

  • Set realistic goals: Ditch the big, sweeping resolutions. Set small, achievable goals based on manageable plans. That way you have clear steps and can feel a sense of accomplishment with your progress rather than focusing only on a final goal.
  • Practice self-care: Regular exercise, nutritious foods, adequate sleep, and activities that reduce stress and boost your mood, such as meditation, or spending time in nature are essential. These activities don’t have to be tied to specific goals, but are actions you can take to promote health and well-being, which are foundational to everything else.
  • Seek support: If you’re feeling overwhelmed or struggling get help from a mental health professional.

There are many factors that can contribute to feelings of difficulty or stress during the month of January. Recognizing the challenges can be an important first step in creating a kinder and gentler month for you and those you love.

The team at Whole Heart are here to help support adults, teens, children and families both in-person and virtually as you navigate this time and beyond.

To learn about our programs and services go to: https://wholeheartmentalhealth.com/services/