Skip to content

Beat the January blues with simple resolutions and less screen time – NTU psychologist gives tips for a positive start to 2023

Short days, cold temperatures, a long wait until payday and unachievable new year’s resolutions – it’s no wonder some of us are suffering from the January blues.

You can improve your mental health and wellbeing in 2023 with some simple behaviour changes

But there are simple ways we can get 2023 off to the best possible start, according to Dr Daria Kuss, Associate Professor and Chartered Psychologist from Nottingham Trent University’s (NTU) School of Social Sciences.

As part of NTU’s latest Re:search Re:imagined podcast, Dr Kuss gives her top tips for staying positive during the winter period, including getting outdoors, connecting with other people and learning new skills.

She said: “Connection with the world around you and your social environment is fundamental. Make time in your diary to see your friends, to speak to family members, even though you might be tired, or you've got work to do.

“Be active, go for walks, go for a run, whatever you like to do. To be able to feel your body and really go back to the fundamentals of our social and physical wellbeing will certainly improve our mental health and emotional wellbeing.”

However, with half of adults making resolutions, but less than 10% actually keeping them, Daria recommends keeping targets simple and achievable to avoid feeling disappointed.

Associate Professor Daria Kuss
Associate Professor Daria Kuss, School of Social Sciences

“People put a lot of pressure on themselves, and this contributes to feeling a little bit miserable, a little bit down, having lower energy and really not necessarily feeling the way that they would want to feel.

“I would recommend setting small new habits that may be formed throughout the year. If you set yourself the resolution to run a marathon next year and you’re not a runner, you’ll find it really difficult to do that. Instead go for more regular walks in the beginning and then gradually increase the amount of time you’re spending being active in nature. Using these tiny habits rather than massive goals is significantly more realistic.

“We will have the rewarding moments which are really crucial to keep the positive things going in our lives. And perhaps eventually you will actually be able to run that marathon after all.”

Daria also suggests that we try to change our habits and put smartphones and other technology away more often to reconnect with ourselves and our household.

“There are a number of things that we can do to use technology a little bit less. Mindful awareness of your environment is certainly something that I would encourage. Instead of scrolling through social media, have a look around, and see what you can notice. Different colours, different people. Noticing the world around you is a very healthy thing that you can do.

“When it comes to how we use technology, I would say to put the phone away when you're working or doing something at home. If you have it on your desk, we know from research that this is going to detrimentally impact your attention even if you're not actually actively using it. Out of sight, out of mind actually works.

“I would also recommend having technology free times during the day. For example, mealtimes when the whole family puts their phones away and has a proper conversation. And the final thing would be to have technology free zones in the house, such as the bedroom. So rather than scrolling through your phone at night when you're trying to go to sleep, put your phone in a different room and instead read a book.

“These small recommendations can make a big difference to your behaviours and your mental health and wellbeing can be significantly improved.”

Hear more from Dr Kuss and other Nottingham Trent University experts in the Re:search Re:imagined podcast series, a platform for original ideas and bold, courageous thinkers. From online addictions and religious freedom to transgender rights and dark tourism, each episode of this podcast explores how research is helping to deepen our understanding of the world.

  • Notes for editors

    Press enquiries please contact Helen Breese, Public Relations Manager, on telephone +44 (0)115 848 8751, or via email.

    About Nottingham Trent University

    Nottingham Trent University (NTU) received the Queen’s Anniversary Prize for Higher and Further Education in 2021 for cultural heritage science research. It is the second time that NTU has been bestowed the honour of receiving a Queen’s Anniversary Prize for its research, the first being in 2015 for leading-edge research on the safety and security of global citizens.

    The Research Excellence Framework (2021) classed 83% of NTU’s research activity as either world-leading or internationally excellent. 86% of NTU’s research impact was assessed to be either world-leading or internationally excellent.

    NTU was awarded The Times and The Sunday Times Modern University of the Year 2023 and ranked second best university in the UK in the Uni Compare Top 100 rankings (2021/2022). It was awarded Outstanding Support for Students 2020 (Times Higher Education Awards), University of the Year 2019 (Guardian University Awards, UK Social Mobility Awards), Modern University of the Year 2018 (Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide) and University of the Year 2017 (Times Higher Education Awards).

    NTU is the 5th largest UK institution by student numbers, with nearly 39,000 students and more than 4,400 staff located across five campuses. It has an international student population of 7,000 and an NTU community representing over 160 countries.

    Since 2000, NTU has invested £570 million in tools, technology, buildings and facilities.

    NTU is in the UK’s top 10 for number of applications and ranked first for accepted offers (2021 UCAS UG acceptance data). It is also among the UK’s top five recruiters of students from disadvantaged backgrounds and was the first UK university to sign the Social Mobility Pledge.

    NTU is ranked the second most sustainable university in the world in the 2022 UI Green Metric University World Rankings (out of more than 900 participating universities).

Beat the January blues with simple resolutions and less screen time – NTU psychologist gives tips for a positive start to 2023

Published on 6 January 2023
  • Category: Press office; Research; School of Social Sciences

Still need help?

+44 (0)115 941 8418