JANUARY may feel like the month of ‘Meh’ for many, but for some people it can be a significantly darker month.

There is emphasis on positive change in a new year, the absence of motivation can promote further feelings of inadequacy and despondency in someone struggling.

It is often easier to have a swifter recovery from low mood if branches are grabbed on the way down.

People don’t always disclose their declining mood, including admitting to themselves, for a variety of reasons. Unhelpful thinking and negative self talk is silencing.

There may be beliefs that avoiding giving attention to a less than desirable state will result in it passing quicker. The fatigue and hopelessness can make expression to others feel like too much of an effort.

There may exist feelings of wanting to protect others and not wanting to bring others down. It’s worth bearing in mind that some people are better at concealing what lays beneath the surface than others.

There may be indicators, the socially acceptable increased level of drinking at Christmas may have continued into the new year. There may be a notable absence of someone posting on social media.

Some may be avoiding face-to-face contact as a means of safeguarding from Omicron, but this in itself could be negatively impacting emotional and mental health. The level of communication via messages may have dwindled, be polite perfunctory messages or there may be no contact at all.

We are not in the business of mind reading, but proactive checking in can ignite that crucial dialogue. Honest declarations of our own state of mind and mood can prompt an open conversation. Rather than a generalised, “How was your Christmas?” or “How are you?” It can help to be direct and do a mood check, ask how someone’s feeling, what their mood is like? What’s more, keep asking.

Better to be a nuisance than not be aware of a loved one in despair.

* A regular health and lifestyle column from Corinne Yeadon, of the Being Better private therapy practice in Skipton