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January Blues? Read our Winter survival guide here

Published: 15/01/2015

By Georgie Rolt, Respiratory Specialist Physiotherapist at The Lister Hospital


So Christmas came and went with all its fanfare and high expectations to enjoy some time off with friends and family…..Okay so the reality is that it was probably way too short, pretty stressful (not to mention expensive) and rest did not even feature. So you will be reassured to know you have survived the ‘most depressing day of the year’ but are now pushing on into winter and the day’s just refuse to get any longer or lighter.


This is a particularly stressful time 

  • Long shifts mean getting up and arriving home in the cold and dark
  • You may have caught that nasty bug that’s been making the rounds
  • Christmas is cripplingly expensive (and it’s a long way to that January payday)
  • You have been working throughout the festive period, missing out on all the fun
  • You volunteered to entertain difficult and demanding visitors or relatives
  • Christmas lets us over indulge (don’t look at those scales!)
  • Missed being away from home, family and loved ones; many of whom live abroad.


Typical Signs and symptoms of stress

  • Time off work
  • Disturbed sleep
  • Intolerance
  • Difficulty concentrating and forgetfulness
  • Fatigue
  • ‘Flight or fight’ response easily triggered
  • Changes in appetite


Simple stress busters to try every day

Communicate! Get talking to your colleagues, look for signs of stress in others and support each other to work as a team. Challenging work does not have to take you down with it.


Look after yourself: Get plenty of good quality sleep so turn off those iPads, lap tops and televisions before bedtime. Eat healthily and drink plenty of water: ban fizzy drinks and say no to those Quality Street chocolates left over from Christmas. Get out of your house, get some fresh air, find a dog that needs a walk or a friend who needs a chat and get moving.


Have a plan: Write tasks down (it can look less frightening), devising a goal and a solution, however big or small. Make sure you keep it realistic. Nothing makes me happier than ticking things off a list (is that just me?!)


Indulge: Book that massage, light some candles, run a bath and put that music on. Pour yourself a glass of what you fancy, try a new recipe and simply reset! If that is all a bit ‘girly’ then don your gym kit and get exercising.


 Common problems and their solutions:


It’s too cold, it’s too wet and it’s too dark…..

Okay so we all know it is wet, windy and really quite miserable out there but that is what waterproofs and thermals are for! Dig them out, get them on and get outside and if all else fails just think how nice it is to return to a warm house, a hot bath and some comforting food. You never know what you might find or who you might meet by just getting out into your community.



I have a cold, I feel tired and I probably should stay in bed…….

Gentle exercise helps stimulate the immune system… FACT! It will open up the lungs, stretch the legs and if nothing else you might just enjoy those endorphins! Be vigilant with your hand hygiene, keep topped up with your Vitamin C and maybe prioritise your social calendar.


I have maxed out my over-draft and my credit card (and payday is ages away!)

Well congratulate yourself that the most expensive month of the year has passed and you are not alone. It can only get better! Say no to non-essential purchases (it can be quite empowering!) walk instead of getting the bus and cook at home (we do ‘eat everything in the freezer January’). Spend your nights in seeing if you can get better deals on your phone and insurance, cancel any memberships you are not using, do a couple of bank shifts and next year do secret Santa with your family! (Read ‘the Power of Less’ by Leo Babauta)


I don’t want to go back to work!

Set yourself a challenge, look back at your appraisal and set out to learn something new that excites you whether it is finishing that yoga instructor’s course or something personal like learning a new language.


Watch for those hidden at home Christmas hazards!


A cocktail of excitement, stress, tiredness and alcohol can create unexpected hazards in the home at Christmas. More than 80,000 people a year need hospital treatment for injuries such as falls, cuts and burns during the festive period, according to the Royal Society for the prevention of Accidents.

During Christmas, your home is likely to be full of people and, in the excitement, accidents can easily happen. So try not to start your 2015 with a visit to A & E having fallen out of the attic putting the decorations away or standing bare foot on that Lego (we feel your pain) or multiple (pin) needle stick injuries from the tree.


When all this fails….

Chronic stress is more common than you might think and can affect you in more ways than you might realise. Disordered breathing is a common bi-product of anxiety and can lead to hyperventilation in extreme cases. Physiotherapists are often involved in the retraining of normal breathing patterns and work closely with other professionals to assist self-management. Cognitive behavioural therapy and yoga (buteyko) have both been recommended by NICE (National Institute for Health and Care Excellence) to be helpful in the management of stress related breathing pattern disorders.

For further information about the physiotherapy services that The Lister Hospital offers visit:


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