Surviving January

(◔_◔)っQuestion: Is January a depressing month for you?

It is the beginning of a New Year and I am already off to a rocky start. I have been depressed since New Year’s Eve. I wasn’t planning to stay up past midnight but my husband and daughter insisted that I watch the fireworks with them… on TV. We had planned to watch the fireworks IRL but plans were canceled due to extreme weather conditions, which is not surprising to anyone who lives in western Canada. Okay, maybe I am being a bit melodramatic, but to give you an idea of how cold Canada is, I wanted to share a photo with you that my husband took on his phone. Just looking at this photo makes me feel cold! #brrr

I am Feeling Blue (SAD)

The New Year is meant to be a hopeful time for us all. Many of us have ambitious goals and feel motivated to crush our goals or face our inner demons. How many of you are familiar with the saying, This will be my year? or New Year, New Me? As tempting as it is to push the reset button on January 1, reality does not have a reset button. January 1, 2022, is no different than December 31, 2021, unless you decide to make a change and take action to make it different. Usually, I am motivated enough to make a list of resolutions for the new year, but this year, I am struggling with my mental health which includes Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). It could also be due to the fact that the holidays are over and there isn’t Christmas to occupy my mind anymore. It could also be due to the fact that I have to go out in the real world again and I have the harsh realization that I am still dealing with social anxiety. To be honest, I haven’t done much to overcome that during the Christmas holiday. 🎄🎁

❄ The Long, Long Winter ❄

I want to hide under the blankets and hibernate until spring 2022. Nothing about winter feels rejuvenating to me. I cannot wait for spring because spring brings me hope. I need longer days, warmer weather, and sunshine in order to thrive 🌞🌻 In the meantime, I know that routines are essential when it comes to surviving the long, long winter. Last year, I distracted myself by doing a No Spend Challenge in January 2021. However, this year, I don’t even have the motivation or mental energy to participate in this challenge. When I tried the No Spend Challenge last year, I enjoyed it very much so I still recommend checking out this challenge if you want to save some money and/or get out of debt. I am 30 years old and live well below my means. Both my husband and I are frugal people and we are actively saving for a brighter future. I might write more about frugality and money-saving tips in future blog posts 🤔

Insomnia Strikes Again

Confession time: I am not good with diary-style blog posts because it takes me several hours to edit them, and even longer if I am struggling to find the energy or motivation to write. I am editing this blog post on January 5, 2022, but I wrote the rough draft on January 3, 2022. To give you some context, I was supposed to work on Sunday, January 2, 2022 (day shift) but I did not sleep at all the night before. I had horrible insomnia because my 5-year old daughter kept me up until 0300 slamming doors and being obnoxious. I am a very light sleeper who needs earplugs and sleeping masks; even that doesn’t seem to help much. On day shifts, I have to wake up at 0430, so I was both physically and mentally exhausted. That morning, I had a pounding insomniac headache which forced me to call in “sick” at 0415. I feel bad for being that person who canceled last minute.

Below is a screenshot from my Instagram account. Feel free to follow me on IG even though I stopped uploading on IG a long time ago. I let go of IG because it wasn’t good for my mental health. You can only filter so much content, and even then, the algorithm is not perfect. There always seemed to be something triggering on IG no matter what I did which is why I took an extra-long, extended hiatus. Looking back, using #victim as a hashtag was a bit melodoramatic. Anywho…. as you can see, insomnia is still an ongoing problem in my life which could also be contributing to my $hit mood. 😴 I have tried everything to help me sleep and I even wrote a blog post about improving sleep hygiene a couple years ago. Insomnia is an ongoing problem for many of us who live in cold climates.

Not only am I disappointed when other people let me down, but I feel really bad when I let others down. I admit that I feel guilty for canceling my shift when I know that they are counting on me to show up and be present at work. I also noticed that this is not the first time that I had to cancel a day shift due to insomnia. What is it about early mornings that I despise so much? I call these “sick” days my mental health days or self-care days. I have to remember to be kind to myself, especially on days when I am struggling with anxiety and depression. Also, I have to remember to practice self-compassion which has started to gain more popularity over the years, especially in the mental health community. If you haven’t heard of the self-compassion movement, I recommend checking out this Ted Talk by Kristin Neff on Youtube.

I had planned to stay in bed all day but then I remembered that I had to go to work the following day (another day shift). Then I remembered that the world goes on without me whether I like it or not, and that the Earth will keep spinning regardless of how I feel. Sometimes, taking a day off after a horrible night of insomnia is absolutely necessary, but I cannot hide under the blankets forever. I know that I will have to get out of bed today and that it is only a matter of time before I have to go back to work. Tomorrow will come and I will have to face the real world once more. I might not see the light right now, but I know that there will be happier, sunnier days ahead.

Do you believe that changing seasons affect your mood? If you live in the northern hemisphere with a cold climate, how do you get enough sunlight? Please join the conversation by leaving a comment below ↓ I look forward to reading your comments. I hope that you are all staying safe and healthy during the winter season. 😷

Thanks for stopping by!

great-vibes.regular (1)

35 thoughts on “Surviving January

  1. Third Culture Kid says:

    The thing is I WANT to feel happy when the new year starts because January is my birthday month. Sooner or later though, I crash. I find SAD affects me most when the time change happens, but having special lightbulbs has made a massive difference

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Liz says:

    I have struggled since 2019 as you know, with what I have going on and it’s made it more difficult after what we all have had because of Covid restrictions. So that has exaggerated what I already had going on with my own mental health, as well as what has been going on. When it comes to Covid restrictions, I don’t think this year will be any better. But what goes on with me, that, I am going to do small things that will make this year better for me. All will be revealed in a later blog post this month and later today, its my latrst Chit-chat post, so from that post, you will see why some things will be different for me this year.

    I don’t suffer with insomnia. But I have a friend who does. He gets it bad.
    I have though had some restless nights awake last year and I inow how that affected me.

    I think there is pressure to do New Year’s resolutions. But I don’t do those. My year from one to next is no different. With exception of this year. But its still not New Year’s resolutions. Just how things will be different, because I want them to. Kept small as not to be overwhelming.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Jay-lyn Doerksen says:

    Good morning. I too live with SADS and depression. For SADS I have a blue light therapy lamp that I use in the morning prior to going to work and for myself I see a huge difference. Although it is not for everyone and not a cure all but it maybe something to look into if you have not already. Amazon (am not an affiliate or anything just love them) has so many of them. None are the blue light like I have but mine is over 4 years old.
    I also use to struggle with insomnia or falling asleep and remaining asleep and my mom recommended that I try magnessium. I take two half hour or so before bed and sleep well.
    Self-care is a huge part of my life.
    Self-compassion is something I have not heard of and I am going to add it to my mental health toolbox.
    I hope you do not take offense at my words and if you do I am very sorry.
    Your Canadian Neighbor in Manitoba

    Liked by 1 person

  4. IdleEmma says:

    The start of a new year can be hard. Like, I want to be really positive about it all but yeah, I’m tired of the weather and the short days. I definitely find it hard to get up in the mornings when it’s still dark. I don’t need the heat of summer, I just want brighter/longer days. Irish winters are just shitty – we don’t even have pretty mountain scenery to make them seem positive…just lots of grey days with rain…although that’s a lot of summer days too…

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hilary Tan says:

      The closest mountains are 1h away driving distance. They closed the tourist locations d/t the pandemic so I haven’t seen the mountains in a long time. I live in a typical neighborhood, it’s nothing special. Lot’s of grey days and cloudy skies here too. Ireland sounds dreamy to me – I have never been there and would love to visit Ireland someday! I guess we always want what we can’t have. I am sorry that the weather in Ireland isn’t great during the winter months. Lots of books and hot chocolate can help with that, I’m sure. 😅🤗

      Liked by 1 person

      • IdleEmma says:

        True – anything we don’t experience every day seems a lot more interesting to us! I imagine I’d hate the cold if I had to live with it every year.

        Still, while Ireland can be a nice country and people love the images of this green island, I don’t think they realise just how much rain it takes to maintain that lush green colour everywhere 😀


  5. darlene,mommyslittledarlings says:

    The lack of sunlight can absolutely make a person feel down. I was actually thinking this morning how people do it with the depression that can hit. I’m in sunny FL but I feel down and sad. I too have social anxiety. I don’t know but I definitely feel off the start of this year.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hilary Tan says:

      I feel like depression can hit us any time of the year. For me, it’s worse in the winter than the summer. I envy you lol Sunny Florida sounds lovely. At the same time, I totally relate to how you feel despite having warm, sunny weather. Social anxiety sucks and I find that hiding in my house makes my anxiety much worse.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Pooja G says:

    Yeah I definitely believe seasons change your mood and can cause depression. I was feeling really down in December thanks to winter but I’m feeling better now that I’m in a sunnier place. One thing that helped me was taking walks even if there wasn’t much sun.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. bosssybabe says:

    Relatable! I live in Toronto! I feel like I used to suffer from SAD… for sure, the winter months always made me feel extra down and blue… and pandemic is like one LONGGGGG winter to boot!

    I have issues with sleep too. Not quite insomnia but I can’t NOT distract myself before bed.. I fear spiraling in my head so in order to avoid spiraling, I don’t actually go to bed until I know I can hit the pillow snoring.. and so I end up in a bad cycle of being on my phone or YouTube… It’s quite terrible… I’ve tried sleep-eeze, zzzquil, neocitron, sleepytime tea.. the works… I just need to sleep earlier and let go of the phone but it’s been so hard with this raging pandemic playing with our emotions (neverending it seems)….

    Hope you feel better!!! (I agree with resolutions, I’m not into it this year and other years it was more intentions for me…!)

    Liked by 1 person

  8. wretchedanddivine says:

    I just read your No Spend Challenge post (and I kind of remember reading about it last year too), and I find that inspiring. Now I’m wondering if I should do something like that… I would definitely love to see posts on frugality and money-saving tips! I’m paying off the last bit of my student loans — thankfully there’s a pause on interest in Canada right now!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. strawberryandcream says:

    I LIVE for the few-and-far-between sun bursts we get here in Oregon in the Winter. I take photos and videos on sunny days to help remind me of the sun that will eventually return for longer periods of time. This photo of Canada is so pretty! But yes, #brrr lol!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hilary Tan says:

      Sunshine and nature is absolutely necessary for good health 🌞 Isn’t it terrible that it took me so long to respond to your comment? I can barely find the motivation to respond to comments these days which is SO unlike me. I had a bit of energy today because we have a Chinook but these Chinooks only last a few days at most.

      Also, I am seriously considering moving at this point; I am not joking. There are a few potential places that we are thinking about moving to because we realize that living here is not going to be ideal for our family, that is, if we want to thrive. Canada is a comfortable country but in many ways it stunts personal growth. Surviving, not thriving. 😓

      Liked by 1 person

      • Hilary Tan says:

        We are thinking about moving to the states but I have heard ppl telling us not to move to the US. I would like to move to Texas or Florida because of the sunshine. Initially, I wasn’t on board with moving to the US but I am okay with it now. The only state I don’t want to move to is Michigan even though it’s closer to home (southern Ontario, Canada).

        I told my husband again today that we need to move. I am freezing all the time and this is no way to live. I suggested Singapore (his parents are from Singapore but they live in Ontario, Canada) but he says it’s not an ideal country to raise a family. I would also be okay with Austrailia but again, it’s really far away from “home.” By home, I mean southern Ontario where I am originally from. We cannot live there because the cost of living is too high for Millenials.


      • Pepper Valentine says:

        Oh wow I grew up in TX and my parents, nieces, nephews are all still there so I visit all the time! I would live there in a heartbeat, I love it so much! But why would people tell you not to move to the U.S.? Just curious so maybe I can give you my point of view. Feel free to email me or DM me on social media if you want to speak more privately. I’d love to show you around some of my fave places in TX one day. I’m fascinated by moving stories because that’s kinda my dream, to be nomadic and have the ability to just move anywhere. I would move to so many places! I’m excited for you!

        Liked by 1 person

      • Hilary Tan says:

        Mostly political and financial reasons, and possibly bad experiences with living in the states I am guessing. This is just a wild guess though. The people around me seem to think that Canada is this amazing country when in fact it is cold, cost of living is high, and Millenials cannot afford a standard 2000-3000 sq foot house. A house like that will cost you 2M+ in the bigger cities. Houses in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) start at 4M+ Seriously, who can afford that?! It is sad that a single working person who makes $80,000 CAD a year can only afford to rent an apartment (true story, coming from a friend).

        You can live a comfortable life in Canada. Canada provides the basics, but that’s really all you get. Basic health care with no bells or whistles. Want something extra? Expect to be put on the waiting list for the next 2-3 years. My husband says that there are more opportunities in the US despite all of the political crap that has been going on lately. I just want to move somewhere where there are palm trees whereas he wants to move closer to the border to be closer to family who live in southern Ontario. No Millennial can afford to live there unless they inherit a lot of $$$ My husband also has extended family in Texas, Europe, Australia, and Singapore.


  10. Jenny in Neverland says:

    Yes seasons definitely effect your mood! I don’t usually mind January. I typically like Winter and the colder months. But this January has been shocking for my mental health. I feel so off about everything and can’t really pin-point why. It’s been super weird.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hilary Tan says:

      Usually, I reply to comments in a timely manner but lately, I haven’t even had the motivation or energy to respond… this is not like me at all. Some days are better than others, and these seem to be days where I see sunlight or get exercise. It’s the basic things that we need: Sunshine, exercise, nutrition, and social connections. I feel like the pandemic has also contributed to this lower-than-usual mood. I hope that you are doing better these days – sorry I haven’t been on Twitter. I still try to check it from my laptop from time to time!

      Liked by 1 person

  11. hellosamanthadear says:

    Firstly, I’m so sorry to hear about how the season is affecting your mood and your difficulties with insomnia!! I can only imagine how hard it would be dealing with winter in Canada. Beautiful scenery!!! But so cold, it looks like! Winter months are hard because I, too, truly love the warmer days of spring and summer, and longer days! Just try to remember that warmer, sunnier days are indeed ahead! ☀️💕

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hilary Tan says:

      Hi Samantha! I am sorry that it is taking me so long to reply to the comments. I’ve been so sleepy and unfocused lately… it could very well be the weather that is contributing to this ‘blah’ feeling. Trust me, I am already counting down the days until spring. Thank you for stopping by! 💜

      Liked by 1 person

    • Hilary Tan says:

      Thank you for tagging me in your challenge, Sloane. I admit that I probably won’t get a chance to do it but I really do appreciate that you thought of me. I was planning to travel to Singapore or Hawaii last year, but we were [still] in the middle of a pandemic, and I think we all know how that ended. 🙄😣


  12. Beautyofcafe205 says:

    Definitely get that seasonal mood change.. and I’m truly sorry you’re feeling depressed I hope you will feel better🙏🏾 To be completely honest I felt this year started off like 2021 like nothing changed but trying to stay positive and be optimistic. My thought today is ‘life is too short not to do what you love’ we must celebrate small winnings because life can change in seconds.

    Much love to you and your family☘️

    Liked by 1 person

  13. wendyjmusings says:

    I think January is particularly hard in prairie months because of the extreme weather and short short days. We had -40 temps last week, then we had windows open all weekend thinking it was spring. Now we’re in a major winter storm again. It’s no wonder everyone is getting sick too with the up and down temperatures. COVID isn’t really helping either. Lots of people are coming down with it this wave. A lot of my family got it after managing to not get it all through the pandemic. I think also, this pandemic! It’s gone on long enough. I know I’m missing being able to go places freely, without masks. And hugging. I miss hugging people too.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Inn. says:

    January is always the worst for real!! It never meets my expectations and I feel like a failure :/ after then Im realizing I have to take it slow! Also, beautiful shot of the lake and moutains!!

    Liked by 1 person

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