The decorations have come down, the tree has been recycled, the food hangover has just about worn off – the festive period is behind us once again.
January can be a tough month. After the highs of December and all it brings, January can feel like a bit of a come down. The days are still dark and cold, the weather unforgiving, and without a festive break to look forward to it can seem bleak.
But it doesn’t need to be!
Healthy body, healthy mind
One way to get back in the right mental headspace is to get back in the right space physically.
Lots of people like to start their health kick in January because it’s the new year. You can use it as a blank slate, putting Christmas and all the food it brought behind you and focusing on the future and getting back on track. You’ll no doubt have heard the phrase ‘new year, new me’: now’s the time.
January is a great time to get healthy for many reasons, but three of the biggest are that January is:
- Dry January
- Mental Wellness Month
Dry January is a national event which challenges you to abstain from alcohol for the month of January.
Starting in 2013, Dry January has gone from strength to strength. 4,000 people signed up to take part in the first year – 175,000 took part in 2023!
Abstaining from alcohol even for just a month can have a huge impact on both the body and the mind. Research by Royal Free Hospital found that not drinking alcohol for a month lowers blood pressure, reduces the risk of diabetes, lowers cholesterol, and reduces the levels of cancer-related proteins in the blood.
Participants were surveyed after completing a month alcohol free: 70% said they were sleeping better and 86% said they noticed how much money they saved.
Saving money is an added bonus, particularly coming right after Christmas. The festive period can be very expensive, so any extra penny you can save yourself will make a huge difference. The mental and physical effects speak for themselves!
You can find out more about Dry January by clicking here.
Veganuary is similar to Dry January, except rather than giving up alcohol Veganuary challenges you to life a vegan lifestyle for the month.
Much like Dry January, the health benefits that occur from living a plant-based diet for a month are many and varied. Research suggests that vegans suffer less from heart disease, diabetes, and even some cancers.
Whilst this research was conducted on people who have a permanent vegan diet, even having one for just 31 days can make a huge impact. People who have taken part in Veganuary report that they’ve slept better, their digestion has improved, and they have clearer skin. Indeed, 98% of participants recommend Veganuary to others.
As well as the personal health benefits, Veganuary helps protect animal species and has a huge positive impact on the environment. You can find out more about Veganuary here.
Mental Wellness Month
Mental health and physical health are inextricably linked. Research shows that people who suffer from conditions such as heart disease or cancer are more likely to suffer from depression and anxiety. The reverse is also true: people who suffer from poor mental health are more susceptible to heart attacks, amongst other things.
It’s vitally important to take care of your mental health at all times, and there are a number of ways to do this. They include:
- Exercising regularly
- Spending time in nature
- Avoiding or restricting your alcohol intake
- Developing good sleeping habits
- Improving your diet
Indeed, taking part in Dry January and Veganuary are just two ways you can improve your mental health!
But there are many other ways you can work on your mental health this January. As well as diet and exercise, making sure to get lots of good quality sleep will help. Adults are recommended to get 7-9 hours of sleep every night. Sleeping less than this can lead to increased risk of depression, anxiety, and other mental health conditions.
Getting outdoors and connecting with nature can also help with mental health problems. Research has found that 44% of people believe being closer to nature makes them less anxious. Getting into nature also requires exercise, which is another way to combat mental health problems.
You can find out more about Mental Wellness Month here.
Do what’s right for you
The most important part of wellness is thinking about yourself. You may not want to or be able to participate in Dry January or Veganuary, but that doesn’t mean you can’t focus on your wellbeing. Everyone is different, which means every person needs a different combination of factors to ensure their wellbeing is looked after.
As long as you’re focusing on your wellbeing and doing your best to look after yourself, then you’ll give yourself the best chance of success.