While it may seem like a strange idea, ‘January Blues’ is a real thing. Towards the end of the year when most people are tired and at the end of their tether, they look to the December break as a welcomed oasis after a long, hard year. But before they know it, the New Year is here and those feelings of fatigue creep back in. You may have even noticed it in the media, how when January 1st comes around, all of a sudden, adverts stop telling you to “overindulge” and start advising how to “better” your mind and body. Such a big shift in your story can make the start of the New Year stressful and tense, and it can even lead to its own kind of burnout along the way. So how do we pace ourselves in January, and not set ourselves up to fail? Here are some tips.

Don’t set unrealistic goals

Studies show that 80% of people who make New Year’s resolutions don’t keep them by February. While ambitiousness is a good trait, pushing yourself too far will only make you feel like you failed. It’s always better to write down a short list of smaller, more attainable goals. There is a bad attitude of “hustle” all around, so this might be easier said than done. But remember that everyone moves at their own pace. Try to avoid telling yourself to do too much at once, like going to the gym every day or reading 10 books a month, as these kinds of unrealistic expectations could set you up to fail mentally and physically. Rather find small, attainable things that you can realistically accomplish.

Plan your time better

A lot of people have a hard time accomplishing ordinary everyday tasks, so adding a new one in the mix can potentially throw you off. It can also be really hard to balance work, sleep, social life, healthy eating, and activities, so thinking carefully about how to realistically achieve these things feels important. Consider looking at your daily, weekly and monthly schedules and plan carefully. If you feel like something is unrealistic, lop it off the list. If you really want to do something in the year ahead, prioritise it. The important thing is to plan carefully and once again, not set yourself up for failure. 

Enjoy your time off

Often in January, we are all rearing to go. School starts, work amps up and before we know it, it’s May, June and July! Make sure the year doesn’t happen without you plotting in breaks along the way. Planned pauses are important to get you through each quarter. This doesn’t have to be a trip away, it can also be a long weekend where the computer is closed, or a week off with some girl friends. Consider mental breaks as well where you go off social media completely for 10 days or switch to reading fiction instead of the news for a few weeks. It’s not a bad thing to escape from reality every now and again and these planned pauses can become really enjoyable moments in the midst of a busy year.  

Keep in touch with family and friends

We get it, the year is often an avalanche of commitments and it can often be difficult to carve out an hour for coffee with a friend. How about setting that up before things get too hectic? Start a whatsapp group with your girlfriends, and in January, select 6 dates in your diary – scattered over the next 12 months – when you can all get together for a glass of wine, dinner or a walk. This is not just a nice-to-have. Studies show that withdrawing from society can lead to a steady emotional decline and so it’s really important that you create time for moments with the people who really matter to you.

Speak to a professional

If January feels hard and the next few months feel even harder, don’t wait. Find a professional who you can speak to in order to understand why the year is already feeling too much. There is absolutely nothing wrong with needing help and often feelings of anxiety are a little red flag pointing to some unfulfilled need that isn’t being met. You owe it to yourself to find out what that is. 

The bottom line

January burn-out is a real thing that can creep up on you and catch you off guard. The last thing you want is to begin the New Year on the backfoot. So setting realistic goals, carving out moments to pause, and reaching out for support are some simple ways that can make a significant difference in the year ahead. 

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