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…
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!