There’s just no getting around it. January is, unequivocally, the worst month of the year. It’s like a 31-day hangover that feels like it’ll never end, torturing you constantly with those blissful memories of post-dinner napping on the sofa at Christmas.
It’s cold, grey, and you’ve been forced to return to work or uni – but there is light at the end of the tunnel – I promise. So until we invent time travel and can finally skip the month altogether, here’s a few tips for coping with, and maybe even beating your January blues:
Start your day right
I’m not going to pretend that I have been or will ever be a morning person, let alone someone who could commit to early morning exercise. But I’ve found in the past that starting the day with as little as a few stretches and a big glass of water, or even a 10-15 minute yoga or pilates routine (check out YouTube for this) makes a huge difference to how I later feel throughout the day.
Pair this with a healthy breakfast – fruit, oats, protein – and you’ll soon find those drizzly days a little more bearable.
Of course, if you are a morning person (though I’m not entirely sure you actually exist) an early morning run or exercise class is a great way to really boost your endorphins and feel awake throughout the rest of the day.
Soup (or your hearty meal of choice)
Whilst the idea that chicken soup can cure your common cold may be an old wives tale, I firmly believe that a warm, hearty soup can make you feel better about almost anything. Even better if you can make it yourself – all you need is a blender and a bit of imagination (or in my case a painstakingly followed recipe).
In fact, whatever the dish, it’s been proven that cooking and baking can do wonders for improving mental health – people have even based therapy treatments around it. If you don’t fancy yourself a top chef, there are plenty of simple (and free) recipes available online for you to have a go at. If your mates are free, invite them round to eat your home cooking for doubled satisfaction.
Have a proper night in
Perhaps the most magical thing of all about Christmas is the way that it makes everyone feel about winter. We go crazy at the faintest prospect of snow, and send each other Christmas cards adorned with rosy-cheeked children and happy families beside a roaring fire.
Then January comes around and we turn on winter. It delays our trains, and scorches our face with fierce winds on the cycle to work. For some reason, the world decides that it’s time for mulled wine to come off the shelves, and that the window for festive cheer is over.
Well I say this is all kinds of wrong – it’s time to take the joy in winter back. In January, have yourselves a proper night in. Invite some friends over, order takeaway, mull some wine (nobody’s stopping you) and get a fire – or your portable heater – on. You could even pick Blue Monday, the semi-official most depressing day of the year, to host a film night or dinner party to really stick it to January. It doesn’t have to be expensive, and socialising is the perfect way to relax & forget about the day’s stresses.
Try something new
One of the worst things about January is the way it tends to feel so monotonous, and one of the best ways to beat this is to dedicate an hour or two a week to something new. Volunteering is a perfect way to both help yourself and other people in the community – whether it’s joining a befriending scheme with a charity like Age UK, helping a neighbour, or walking someone’s dog, you’re bound to make both yourself and others feel good, as well as breaking the dull routines of your academic work or job.
Christmas isn’t easy on the wallet, and it’s certainly a key player in the reason why many see January as such a depressing month. But there’s no reason why you can’t start making plans for later in the year, or booking a getaway when payday rolls around. Having something to look forward to can make the month fly by, and the search for hotels and things to see and do once you get there is a great motivator to keep going.
If you’re really low on cash and/or desperate to get away sooner, check out towns or cities near to you that you’ve never explored and consider a day trip or night there – a change of surroundings can do wonders for shifting the dreadful feeling that you’re going nowhere.
Treat yo self
As simple as it sounds. Some days you really do just need a bath, a giant chocolate bar and a new series on Netflix to binge. You’re certainly not the only one…