After the holiday season, and with cold and dark nights drawing in, it’s very common and normal for us humans to experience the January Blues. Perhaps we’ve overindulged a little on Christmas cake, or need to make financial cut backs after spending a lot during December. Coupled with heading back to work and the normality of day-to-day routines, it’s easy to see why January can be thought of as the most depressing month of the year, perhaps bringing a feeling of emptiness or monotony. BUT remember… whether you have pets yourself or your friends, family or neighbours keep a dog you can help take care of, they can be incredible companions during this time, bringing joy and positivity. The following 6 tips can help you to beat the January Blues in 2024 with your furry friend.
1. Take a moment to appreciate the unique emotional connection you have with the dogs (or other pets) in your life
It’s hard to stay blue for long when we think about the loyalty, unconditional love and companionship that dogs provide us with. How does your dog cheer you up when you’re feeling down? Perhaps they’re always nearby to provide company or give a cuddle. Perhaps they’re the first one to greet you as you come through the door? We bet they’re always happy to see you and this should be heart-warming.
2. Combat January Blues with science – dogs help lower stress levels
The start of a new year can bring a fresh start and new goals… most of us love to set some New Years resolutions. But additional pressure from work, finance, health or fitness goals can feel stressful and stress can add to feelings of sadness or depression. The good news is that there is scientific evidence behind the stress-relieving benefits of having a dog. Interacting with dogs can lower cortisol levels, reduce anxiety, and promote a sense of calmness. Dogs are known for their soothing presence and the act of petting them, teaching them a simple new trick or playing with them can cheer us up too. So go ahead and make sure you spend just ten minutes of quality time with your dog today, and it will benefit you both.
3. Keep a healthy daily routine to avoid the January Blues
Dogs love routine. If your dogs are anything like ours, they know what time they want to get up, have their morning snack and when to go for walkies. And if we’re not ready to fulfil their routine, they’re going to nudge us to remind us! Many dogs are more relaxed don’t need to do the same things at exactly the same time every day. However all dogs need a basic routine of love and care fulfilled each day, ensuring their needs are met. And this is great for us too, as it means we also keep to a simple daily routine. Why not have your own morning snack while you feed the dogs or make yourself a warming drink, such as cup of tea or hot chocolate? Be sure to look after yourself in January and have small treats where you can to avoid those January Blues, and incorporate these into your daily routine.
4. Keep up social connections despite party season being over for now
Many of us can feel quite exhausted in January, especially if December was filled with social events, parties and Christmas visits with family. So, it’s understandable that in January we’ll be more inclined to stay home, rest and recuperate. But social connection is a key way to avoid the January Blues… taking time to rest doesn’t mean having to miss out on all social connection and dogs are the perfect way to seek this out. If possible, walk your dog at the same time of day and the same place and see if you bump into other friendly dog walkers. It can be nice to stop for a short chat and get to meet some of the local doggos. Also, whilst many like to take a social media detox in January (which we think is a great idea), for others active social media accounts is a great way to keep up some social connections without leaving the house… just try to keep some balance in your online and offline activities to ensure you avoid those January Blues. You could also offer to take care of a friends pet for a short time, or ask a neighbour to walk your dogs together once a week.
5. Get outside and get (lightly) active
Yes it’s cold and dark in January and sometimes the British weather simply doesn’t allow us to keep up the dog walking we’d do in the summer. However, when you can, be sure to get outside with your pooch so they can get their daily exercise. If your dog doesn’t need a lot of exercise, then getting outside for just a 10 or 15 minute street walk on the lead can be hugely beneficial for mental health. If you’re able to, plan longer trips at weekends or on days when you don’t have to work, that can be done during daylight hours. Visiting new spots can be a wonderful way to boost your mood, entertain your dog and avoid spending money as many lovely dog walks around the UK are completely free!
6. Finally, if you can afford to, treat your pooch in the January sales and support a small business at the same time
We understand that many people right now will be trying to cut back on spending during January. But if your budget this month does stretch to a treat, it’s a good time to make some wonderful savings in the January sales and grab a bargain. We love to treat our dogs more than ourselves and you can feel doubly warm inside by choosing an independent business for your small purchase and supporting them. To celebrate the start of 2024, Bew Dogs has 24% off absolutely everything until the end of January with promo code NEWYEAR and this includes existing sale items. Our brand new rainbow cable knits are also 24% off… a lovely gift for your pooch to keep them warm and brighten up your January days. Alternatively, we often share other small business profiles across our social media channels that we love, so be sure to follow us on these to discover a new favourite.
We hope these little tips give an idea for how your relationship with the dogs in your life can spark some joy this January. Whatever your plans, remember that if you are feeling down and it seems to you like it could be a little more than the January Blues, then don’t wait to seek some advice from your GP, or talk to a friend or family member or a mental health charity, such as the Samaritans. The sooner mental health conditions are treated, usually the quicker recovery can be so its important to get that expert help when needed.
We’d love to hear your ideas or experiences with your pets and how they lift your mood despite the January Blues, in the comments below or on our social media accounts. Why not leave a comment and tell us what you’ll be doing with your pet in January or a favourite memory of how your pooch cheered your mood.