Lots of us find January and February the toughest months of the year. The buzz and excitement of Christmas is over, replaced with the pressure to set New Year resolutions – which, let’s be honest, often lead us into that negative trap of feeling that our lives (and therefore we) aren’t really good enough – and by this point, winter’s long, dark days are really taking their toll.
For some, this time of year can spell major depression and seasonal affective disorder (SAD), while for others, there’s simply an annoying seasonal dip in mood and motivation – but most of us experience a touch of the Winter Blues to some degree.
Planning a holiday can provide the perfect antidote (for those of us in the privileged position to be able to do so, of course). It won’t make all your woes disappear, but it could help take the edge off.
Here are five reasons why January and February is the ideal time to plan a holiday…
Planning a holiday could be the ultimate positive distraction. From scouring websites and brochures to reading articles about dream destinations and chatting to friends and family about trips they’ve enjoyed, getting stuck into your holiday research can work wonders. Your feet may still be planted firmly in that January reality, but letting your mind drift away to sunnier climes – imagining all the things you could see/taste/explore on your trip – could work wonders for your mental wellbeing.
Experts believe the lack of sunlight at this time of year is a major factor in SAD, which is why the condition is often called ‘winter depression’. Whether or not you suffer with full-blown SAD, it’s common to find the short, dark days a struggle. Sunlight boosts levels of serotonin – aka the ‘happy hormone’ – so there’s a scientific explanation for the fact many of us feel happier during summer. Plotting a sunshine getaway could put you on the fast-track to a natural high.
Whether you see holidays as a chance to be adventurous and intrepid or opportunities to truly relax, unwind and do nothing but lounge and read for a week or two, there are so many rewards to be gained. Making a wish-list, and really taking the time to think about your dream holiday – and how you are going to make it happen – can be a real boost. It might be that you need to save up for a while, or do lots of prep and planning, but imagine the sense of achievement when that dream becomes a reality.
If Winter Blues are really getting you down, it can seem as though you’re stuck in a miserable rut that will never change. But the old saying, ‘This too shall pass’, really is true, and no matter how much it seems like time is standing still, it really isn’t. Shifting your focus away from your immediate concerns and circumstances encourages a sense of looking to the future – where things look brighter.
It's easy to let our healthy eating regimes and sleep patterns slip as winter drags on, and the impact this can have on our mood and overall energy levels should not be underestimated. Add to that the fact many of us tend to be less active, and stay indoors more during the cold, dark months and it's no surprise that we feel sluggish and demotivated - which isn't going to help those January blues. Experts agree that positive motivation is key to enforcing good habits and pursuing goals. Having a holiday on the horizon to look forward to could be a powerful boost, making sticking to those healthy habits - and reaping the mood-lifting rewards - so much easier.