It’s the start of a new year, but January can be tough when it comes to feeling happy. The holiday festivities are over, the gift-giving bills are coming in, the routine workweek has returned, and, in many places, the gloomy winter days are starting to take a toll. It’s no wonder the third Monday of January has been dubbed the most depressing day of the year, with some calling it Blue Monday.
January might not be considered the most joyful month, but there’s no need to let the post-holiday blues dominate the first few weeks of 2016. Kick off the year positively by using these five tips to stay happy (even when the air is frigid and the festiveness has faded!):
1. Choose a word of the year
Studies have shown that New Year’s resolutions can be very hard to keep, and failing to do so can add to those January blues. Instead of a resolution, choose a word that highlights what you want more of or a specific way you want to feel in 2016. Some word-of-the-year ideas: fun, inspired, love, joy. (Check out more here.) Make your word a priority all year long. Whenever you’re struggling with a decision, ask yourself, “Does this align with my word of the year?”
2. Plan a fun event, large or small
The letdown following November and December’s fun events can curtail happiness. After socializing, parties, and festivities, it might feel as if there’s nothing to look forward to, making this is the perfect time to plan something fun. Whether you book a vacation for later in 2016 or schedule brunch with friends next weekend, planning something exciting is a real pick-me-up during these dreary days.
3. Pick up Your Pen
When the days are short and your mood is low, try doing something we rarely do anymore: Write a letter to a loved one who lives far away, or find a pen pal via sites like Adopt a Soldier or More Love Letters or The Letter Writers Alliance. Having something positive to do (sending letters!) and the possibility of receiving personal mail will brighten up dull days.
4. Set a positive alarm clock
If you use the alarm option on your phone to wake you each morning, program the sound it makes to give yourself a positive boost when you wake up. You can download a favorite ringtone, or even record your own wake-up invocation by recording yourself fun sounds and uplifting sayings like “Go smile at yourself in the mirror” or “Go get 'em, tiger!”
5. Create a new routine
Getting back to the standard, day-to-day routines can be one of the most disheartening parts of January but you can spice up your schedule by creating a new and fun routine this month! Consider what you really enjoy doing—reading, drinking coffee, chatting with friends, going for walks—and find a way to incorporate what you love into your daily routine. Set aside an hour after dinner for reading or schedule a weekly date with a friend to catch up. It will make the time until spring a lot more joyful.
Dani DiPirro is an author, blogger, and designer living in a suburb of Washington, DC. In 2009, she launched the website PositivelyPresent.com with the intention of sharing her insights about living a positive and present life. Dani is the author of Stay Positive, The Positively Present Guide to Life, and a variety of e-books. She is also the founder of Twenty3, a design studio focused on promoting positive, modern graphic design and illustration.