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Ah, January. As the pine needles steadily drop off the Christmas tree, parties and presents are replaced with bulging waistbands, a battered bank balance, back-to-work blues and over-ambitious detox regimes.

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The chances are you’ve made some resolutions that have varying degrees of feasibility. According to counsellor Debra Canning, making the right resolutions is key to making a potentially depressing month into a fresh start to the year.

“New Year’s resolutions can fill people with a sense of hope and expectation and although self-improvement is important, you must be careful not to focus on what is missing in your life or seeing your current self as a failure. Setting goals is important, but if those goals are unrealistic they can be destructive if you use them as a stick to beat yourself with when you fail. Instead, don’t look for a ‘new’ you, look to build on the positives of the existing ‘you’,” she says.

To beat those blues, take Debra’s advice…

Career

Settling back into the work routine during the dark days can be tough, the summer holidays can seem a long way off and you may be feeling a lack of morale and personal fulfilment. Therefore, it is important to factor in some breaks in your work life, either a weekend away or a couple of days off to look forward to. Look at your past successes and what you enjoy doing as these will be the key to changing the right areas of your work life.

Social Life

There are countless studies linking social and emotional wellbeing. If you feel low or alone after the festive season, you may have to fight the urge to isolate yourself. It is important to organize social dates... coffee with a friend, lunch with a family member, join a club or even become a volunteer. The busier you are, the less time you will have to focus on your worries.

Money

The current economic situation coupled with overspending at Christmas may have left you feeling worried and apprehensive about the future. While it is important not to ignore your money problems, you should not dwell on your fears. Instead focus on how you want your financial situation to be this year, what is realistic and how you will feel when you achieve it. This will result in a more positive expectations and changes in financial habits.

Relationships

Spending an extended amount of time with your relatives is a recipe for tension, no matter how well you usually get on. It doesn’t mean you don’t love each other any more, just that you have spent too much time together. If there has been an argument, try to be the bigger person and resolve any differences - it is a much more positive experience building bridges rather than holding onto a grudge.

Health

Eat well! It’s easy to continue the festive habit of large meals and sweet treats, so cut back to the pre-Christmas portions and slowly adjust to more healthy eating habits. Research shows that foods that are high in omega 3 fatty acids (nuts and oily fish) may inhibit the chemicals that are linked to depression. Over indulgence and late nights will have taken their toll on your body so avoid the temptation to sleep in or have ‘catch-up’ naps. Establish a regular pattern of 7-8 hours sleep per night and keep your bedtime and waking times consistent to reset your body clock. Thirty minutes daily exercise can help depression, stress and anxiety symptoms. You should do something you enjoy, (e.g. the gym, walk the dog, play on the Wii, dance) make it a pleasure not a chore!

Debra Canning is a counsellor working in the Gravesend area.

Visit debracanning.co.uk or call 07930 400712.

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