It's that time of year when the party season is well and truly over, the weather's generally awful and there's not that much to look forward to.

The summer seems a long way off! It's not unusual for lots of people to feel down in January after the fun and excitement of Christmas and New Year is over. January even has the dubious honour of being associated with the most depressing day of the year. Blue Monday is the unofficial term for the Monday of the last full week in January – this year it falls on 26th January.

So how can you avoid feeling down this January?

Give yourself some love
 article about New Year, New You
You need to be able to love yourself as well as other people ("Love" (CC BY 2.0) by jmscottIMD )

When you feel down and demotivated, it often goes hand in hand that your self-esteem dips. You tend to focus on your weaknesses rather than your strengths, and find fault with yourself more than remembering the good things you've got going and what you've achieved. To combat New Year blues, try to focus on loving yourself as much as the people around you. This doesn't mean being selfish, it means respecting yourself and valuing the fact that you have needs as much as anyone else.

There are different ways to develop feelings of self-love, but one way to begin is to write down all your good points and read those back to yourself as a kind of mantra. Don't fall into the trap of speaking negatively about yourself, as it'll just bring you down further. Conversely, if you think in a positive and confident manner, even if it's a bit of an act, it will actually serve to lift your mood and allow you to value yourself.

As well as positive thinking, give yourself a little something as a treat. Book a massage, arrange a fun day out with your mates. Do anything that will leave you feeling good.

Work out a fitness plan

Yes, it's a cliché but New Year is a great time to get motivated and do some exercise. Think about all that indulgence over Christmas and New Year – the mince pies, Christmas puds, and all those meals out over the festive period will probably have you feeling lazy and sluggish. It's time to work off those excess pounds at the gym. As well as the health benefits, doing exercise is also a great mood enhancer. As you exercise your brain releases endorphins into your blood system, so that's why you feel an energy boost and happier after a workout.

Eat foods that make you happy
 article about New Year, New You
Increasing the amount of fresh produce you eat can improve your mood ("Clagett Farm CSA Week 10" (CC BY 2.0) by )

Increasing the amount of fresh produce you eat can improve your mood
As well as doing more exercise, you can also influence how you feel through the fuel you feed your body. Winter is a time when we all tend towards those stodgy comfort foods, but they aren't going to improve your mood. However, there are lots of foods that have been associated with feeling good. Fresh fruit and veg is easy to incorporate into your diet and research has shown that it increases levels of energy and happiness. Not only do they boost your mood on the day you eat them, but these positive benefits of fruit and veg can carry through to the next day as well. Dark, cocoa-rich chocolate is well known to be good for us. Its antioxidants can trigger a relaxation of blood vessel walls, which lowers blood pressure and improves circulation. Dark chocolate can also trigger feelings of euphoria which will serve to lift a dark January mood.

Just because lots of people feel down on life during January, you don't have to. Adopt a positive frame of mind and treat yourself well during the dark days of winter and remember, spring is just around the corner.