THE party season is well and truly over and the finale of the festivities leaves everyone feeling pretty flat.

January is also the month when we really count the cost of Christmas so contemplating those red letter bills, as we try to get our finances back on track, can be a stressful and worrying time too.

This year Blue Monday, traditionally known as the most miserable day of the year, falls on January 21 but, in reality, for some, feelings of low mood can effect them any time of the year.

Sharon Edwards, clinical lead for MyWellbeing College which is run by Bradford District Care NHS Foundation Trust, says in January they notice an increase in referrals to their service which supports people with common mental health difficulties around depression or low mood.

She believes a combination of reasons prompt people to seek help. "The start of a New Year you think about your own goals, well being and lifestyle," says Sharon.

While Christmas and the New Year are traditionally seasons of celebration others may struggle. "Christmas can often not be a great time for a lot of people," she says.

There may be issues in their lives they need help with such as relationship difficulties, concerns about their health, phobias, feeling un-motivated, dis-connected or anxious and the New Year can be a time for them to seek support.

"People have to want to do it, to want to change because it is hard work and you have to put the effort in and you have to go out of your comfort zone," says Sharon.

She says seeking help isn't a sign of weakness. "People all over the world suffer with this. There is absolutely no need to suffer on their own. We are here to support them and teach them ways of managing and improving their mood."

Paul Lonsdale decided to seek additional support after becoming stressed at work. The 49-year-old felt his confidence was low and he says he also suffered slight anxiety.

People can self-refer to the service but Paul was referred through his GP. "She was very understanding about it and told me I was suffering from anxiety and we worked out it was all work related."

The 49-year-old was recommended to enrol on a self-help group and was invited to attend the mood matters course which, he explains, can be accessed through the MyWellbeing College website.

Following techniques he learned, Paul was able to change his way of thinking to help him cope better with every day situations.

“It helps you to identify how mood can affect thoughts negatively, and how negative thoughts can affect mood. Completing the course was an opportunity for me to have a look at the way I think, how I think, why I think, what I think and it was an eye-opener," he explains.

Adding: "I would recommend to anyone who is feeling a little low as there are loads of courses on there and you can refer yourself.

“It’s only a six week course; it didn’t take up much time, just two hours one afternoon a week. It was a relaxed classroom style setting with adults of various ages on the course from retired people to teenagers…. people from all walks of life.

"Two people ran the class who were fantastic. You could participate in the sessions or you could just sit and listen and take away what you wanted to from the course, it was very, very useful.

"For me it’s helped me immensely because I could get the strategies in place that I needed to help me in the future which I am putting into good practice. Completing the course has allowed me to create and update my thought pattern, giving me the thought pattern I need in life to manage life’s ups and down’s more effectively.”

Those affected by Blue Monday feelings can follow some simple tips to help boost mood and wellbeing including sleep; cutting out caffeine; getting active; helping someone; eating well; getting daylight; staying social; managing stress and having fun.

MyWellbeing College offers a range of course options from social groups - helping people to get out and about - online courses supporting people from the comfort of their own home to group courses and guided self-help.

It is free to enrol and is available for anyone registered with a GP in Bradford, Airedale, Wharfedale or Craven.

It also brings together a number of resources which are free to use, covering a range of topics including low mood, sleep problems and anxiety.