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How to Beat the January Blues

Posted on 5 min read

I always think January is a bad time for a new start.

Think about it: you’re still dealing with the Christmas /New Year hangover (literally, in some cases), you’re back at work, the weather’s awful, it’s just hit you that there’s still three months of winter left to get through… it’s a pretty miserable month, all round, really. If it was up to me, I’d move New Year to, like, May or something. That would be much better. Actually, I’m willing to try to organize it, if you’ll all back me? No? Well, OK, don’t say I didn’t offer…

This January, as I mentioned yesterday, is proving particularly difficult for me, and in all honesty, it’s tempting just to crawl under the duvet and stay there until spring. As that isn’t an option, though, here are some ways I’m trying to beat the January blues…

How to beat the January blues: what to do when January rolls around, you´re back at work, and you just can´t seem to muster the necessary energy to start smashing all those goals you set yourself at the start of the year
Hold off on the New Year’s resolutions

Most of the ‘lifestyle’ articles you tend to see at this time of year are of the “new year, new you” variety: they advocate starting an exercise regime, eating healthily, and doing all kinds of other tediously virtuous things designed to make you a better person – if not exactly a happier one. Now, don’t get me wrong: I’m as susceptible as the next person to the whole “fresh new start!” thing – my Fitbit is back on my wrist as I write this, and my running shoes are… well, they’re still gathering dust in the closet, actually, because let’s face it, January is depressing enough without forcing yourself to run ten miles in the driving rain every day, and deny yourself all the things you love. That’s just crazytalk, isn’t it?

Now, I’m not saying you shouldn’t even TRY to set goals, be a better person, or do whatever it is you’ve decided 2016 is the year for. All I’m saying is that you should probably cut yourself some slack if you don’t quite manage it. Because it’s January. It sucks. And if finishing off that last piece of Christmas chocolate is going to make you feel a little bit better, then I don’t really see the point in denying yourself that just because of the date on the calendar. All things in moderation, after all: and I actually think I’m more likely to stick to the goals I’ve set if I don’t try to stick to them too rigidly – especially not in January.

There is, however, one piece of advice I agree with in all of those new year/new you articles, and it’s this one:

Have a clear-out

OK, so you all saw this one coming a mile off, didn’t you? I’ve said before that cleaning is my solution to just about everything, but that’s particularly true at this time of year, when the house is feeling especially messy and cluttered after the chaos of the Christmas season. I realise I’m possibly alone in this, but although I look forward to putting the Christmas tree up in December, I can’t wait to take it back down again in January (or, you know, also in December: I hate the thought of starting the new year with the house still full of last year’s decorations!), and I also normally have a big clear-out on New Year’s Eve. (Er, during the day, I mean: I don’t actually bring in the New Year with a scrubbing brush in hand. Not EVERY year, anyway.)

This year I haven’t had as much time for this as I’d like, but I’ll be bagging up some stuff for the charity collectors later this week, and have also been working my way through a clear-out of the kitchen cupboards, which are groaning with food (and, bizarrely: lightbulbs. Seriously, what the hell?) after the excesses of Christmas.  It helps me clear my head as well as my cupboards, and to feel like I’m getting the year off to a good start, even if I don’t manage to continue that way.

Plan something fun

I always think one of the reasons January can be so miserable is that there’s nothing to look forward to. The promise of Christmas gets us through autumn and the start of winter, but by the time January rolls around, there’s just nothing, is there? (Well, not unless you have a birthday to look forward to, or something. And are the kind of person who looks forward to birthdays, obviously. I’m not, so I wouldn’t know.) The solution? Make something up. It doesn’t have to be something expensive – in fact, it’s probably better that it isn’t, if you’re anything like me, and treated December as some kind of bizarre spending challenge – but anything at all that will help break the monotony of the season and give you something to look forward to has to be a good thing, no?

This is something I struggle with a bit, because my natural inclination is to turn into a hermit the second autumn arrives, but I’m the kind of person who’s happiest when I have something to work towards or look forward to, so I’m trying to build a few little treats into my schedule this month, even if they’re small ones.

Another reason I think January can be so depressing is the fact that it normally heralds the return to a routine you happily abandoned back in December, and aren’t particularly thrilled to be returning to. Unless you’re incredibly lucky and don’t have to work for a living, it’s obviously unrealistic to expect you to break the routine altogether, but I find that making some kind of change to it – however small it may be – can help make January feel fresh and interesting again. Well, a little bit, anyway.

Re-arrange a room. Take a different route to work. Buy some new products to use in your morning shower. Change the side you part your hair on. OK, that last one probably won’t make any difference at all: and the other ones might not either, to be totally honest. But there’s probably something you can do to re-ignite your interest in the cold, dark days that lie ahead – and once you’ve worked out what that thing is, please share it with the rest of us, because I for one could really do with the help!


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  • Steff
    January 5, 2016

    Great post Amber, I am so with you on the January Blahs! I like the idea of a de-clutter and changing one little thing especially, the whole “Change your whole diet and exercise routine in one fell swoop” type articles are just depressing to me right now. My birthday is actually later this week and tbh it usually kind of sucks because no one wants to party a week after New Year, never mind remember it! Ah woe is me, woe is January! 😉

    • Amber
      January 5, 2016

      I have a friend who has a birthday this week, and he always celebrates it at the end of January, after everyone’s been paid: it gives us all something to look forward to!

  • Sheridan grady
    January 5, 2016

    Great tips! I neeeeed to have a clear out, I love your photos they’re so lovely x


  • Holly
    January 5, 2016

    Great post 🙂 I’ve definitely not made any resolutions, but I have a couple of things I want to work towards in 2016, but I’m not going to beat myself up if I don’t get there!! I also tidied out my jewellery box at the weekend, in preparation for a clothes clear-out!! xx

  • Chloe
    January 5, 2016

    I always get the January Blues and its really bad this time as I’m getting over a stomach bug and feeling so sorry for myself. I missed my annual New Years Day house clean cos I was stuck in bed and the mini staycation we have planned for this weekend may get called off if I don’t get better soon. I’m throwing a major pity party at the moment!

    Chloe X

  • Porcelina
    January 5, 2016

    I share your views Amber, why make January more miserable than it already is?! I hate waste so I am still eating Christmassy things. Having a clear out is always good, I have done a huge bag of shredding, and have started a charity shop pile. A friend has asked me to go to an awards cerrmony at the end of January with them so that’s my light at the end of the tunnel! X

  • daisy jones
    January 5, 2016

    Hi Amber Happy 2016 etc etc. must say that actually a change of parting from centre to side always makes me feel younger!?
    best Daisy x

  • Sophie
    January 5, 2016

    I totally agree with you about resolutions! I want to look after my health a bit more this year but I know full well there’s no point in even trying until all the Christmas chocolates have been eaten! Wishing you the best for 2016 🙂

    Sophie | http://www.dreamsandcolourschemes.com

  • Myra
    January 5, 2016

    After the wettest month on record, January comes in with storms and more rain. I couldn’t even clean the muddy paw prints off my huge glass doors, so only managed it today, just in time for my little hairy pup coming back tomorrow. I hate this time of year, and suffer from SAD. Did the big clear up and packing away five boxes of Christmas trees and decorations. The house always feels cleaner aft that. Roll on Spring —–

  • Heather
    January 5, 2016

    I agree with the cleaning and taking down Christmas decor! I liked putting it up, but I think I enjoyed taking it down more 😉 it looks so much cleaner and less cluttered now! My husband gave a little cheer too, ha.

  • Anya
    January 5, 2016

    I actually like winter. How about playing in the snow? Or going sleding or skiing? Today was a sunny snow day where i live and even en route to work i madale a small snowball. I have warm clothes . Boots jackets sweaters. I double my jeans with tights. When you re not cold winter is better. Thw other day i played (mostly carried on a sled) my newphew through snow. He was so full of wonder. I mean it s the little things. As to small changes to brighten the day i have new lipstick shades, the ideea that i can do more intense vampy eyelooks in winter so i spend more time playing with my mug. While i agree january can be a little drab i tend to organize stuff with friends like mulled wine nights, game nights, a weekend or two of skitrips and of course there is the v day in feb.

    • Amber
      January 5, 2016

      We rarely get snow here (just a lot of rain!) but I’m not a fan of it when we do: everyone likes different things 🙂

      • anya
        January 6, 2016

        I m not saying we all should be OMGsnow. But i wonder if this January Blues are actually a case of SAD. For example i live in a continental climate +40C summer and -10,up to -20 in winter. Come to think of it i disklike more the in-betweens when you can’t dress either warm or breezy. :). But not like i find a season particularily dislinking. For example a quick pick me up is my weekly check after Christmas of how much the day has lengthened. I think you would enjoy that. it’ a positive.
        Do you celebrate March 1st? we do here and it’s like a omg spring has come moment where flowers are gifted and it’s kinda positive/reassuring .

  • Lynette
    January 5, 2016

    I put up some Christmas decorations on Christmas Eve and take them down on Boxing Day. I’m not a Grinch but I can’t stand the tinsel and mess for too long. I like the idea of holding off on the ‘resolutions’, and agree about cleaning out stuff. Managed to move off my entire CD collection this week (who needs CDs with Spotify and itunes). It felt good and freed up two cupboards. Luckily for us though this is the time of the year when we don’t get SAD as we have lots and lots and lots of sunshine.

    • Myra
      January 24, 2017

      Don’t blame you re putting tinsel up if you don’t like it. Get one or two beautiful things that say Christmas to you and you’ll love having them on display.

  • Jane M
    January 5, 2016

    No resolutions here. I don’t know if it is because I am a teacher, but Back to School still feels more like New Year to me…new clothes, workbooks etc = new me

  • What Lou Wore 365
    January 6, 2016

    I dislike February more than January as it tends to snow/ be really cold. Mind you this winter has been so freaking mild down here that all the spring bulbs came up early December, daffodils are flowering and I’ve been running in short sleeves with no need for gloves, snood, compression layers etc.

    Taking down the Christmas decs on 30th Dec (kids were at nursery, had a day to myself) helped me go into the new year feeling ready to get back to work without all the depressing clutter that needs taking down on the “12th night” whenever that is. We’d had it up since the last weekend in November as the kids were so excited so it was more than time to pack it away!

    Did the clear out thing on their bedrooms this weekend as well, in fact so far I’m liking January 🙂

    Happy new year to you, Terry and Rubin anyway. Hopefully things pick up from here x

  • Deanna Debrecht
    January 6, 2016

    Love this post! My two oldest kids just left to go back to college/grad school today, and I have to say as much as I miss them, I’m looking forward to getting my house back to normal and cleared out! I also have a birthday at the end of January, and this year I’m taking my husband to New York to celebrate my 50th so am super excited for that! We will be climbing to the crown of the Statue of Liberty on my birthday…that definitely counts for the “plan something fun” category! Hope you have something fun planned as well 🙂

  • Georgina
    January 6, 2016

    I hate January. I am more than ok with moving New Year to May. I’ll back you up, Amber!

  • Trudy
    January 7, 2016

    Ha! Living in NZ, January is my favourite month. I have just finished 2 weeks of holidays, and we have had beautiful blue skies and temperatures in the high 20s. Perfect way to start a year, recharged! Maybe you could move to the other side of the world, that’s the easiest way to get better weather in January 😉

  • Claire
    January 7, 2016

    These are great! The only positive to embarking on a spartan regime in January is that everyone else is doing it so there’s a bit less temptation around, but other than that – forget it, carbs for the win!! I definitely think that planning something fun is essential to winter survival – this is always the week I plan my summer holiday to remind myself there’s light (literally!) at the end of the tunnel!

  • Rachel
    January 8, 2016

    Early to bed on New Year’s Eve, then a whole wonderful, hangover free New Years day painting the kitchen; I felt so much better having a clean, calm 7 clutter free zone!!!

  • Kara
    January 30, 2017

    Have you ever tried daylight bulbs (cool white 5,500k+)? I was very depressed earlier (SAD/expat blues) in the month and the bulbs have been a life saver. Plus you can get them at any hardware store or amazon.

Outfit: Blanket scarf and biker jacket
How to Beat the January Blues