Sitting on the sofa munching on chocolate and watching TV is the absolute dream when I’m feeling rushed off my feet, but when it’s because I have nothing else to do, then, well…it sucks.
January is a lot like that for me.
After the go! go! go! of December, January just feels empty, lonely, dreary and cold. I don’t know what to do with myself. December is a runaway train of activity, then January is when the steam runs out and everything just stops.
We fill Christmas with love and warmth and giving and food and happiness. We visit our friends and family and laugh and cheer and have a good time. On New Year we clasp arms and sing Auld Lang Syne and look hopefully towards the future.
We return to our homes, jobs, daily routines. Everything feels dull and monotonous. The year looms ahead like a black cloud, an endless downpour of ‘same shit, different day’, day in day out. I’ll yearn for change, but the festive come-down makes it feel impossible.
Every year my mental health hits rock bottom because of this. I focus too much on trying to find the thing that is going to revolutionise my life that I forget to simply live.
So here’s 12 things I am doing this January to help me fight the January Blues.
1. Learn From Last Year
What major life lesson did I learn last year? Well, it was my first full year of being a parent so I learned a whole bunch of things! This was the biggie though:
Mental illness is so cunning, manipulative and good at hiding that no one notices you’ve gone completely off the rails, even you.
This led me to identify my early warning signs that the cliff-edge is near and I am now working on ways to prevent myself from tumbling over the edge.
2. Do One Thing I’ve Been Meaning to Get Around To
I have a to-do-list the length of my dissertation so I’m going to tackle at least one thing on there to make myself feel productive. That always helps lift my mood, and sometimes even alleviate some anxiety.
Today I started by cleaning the windows since it hadn’t been done since 2015 and the frames were literally black. I think I’ll continue with something more fun, like reading the books I bought months (years) ago and still haven’t read.
What’s on your to-do-list?
3. Stop Doing One Thing I Don’t Enjoy
I’m endlessly thrifty and used to clean the outsides of my windows myself because I hate the thought of paying someone to do something I could do myself. It led me to the discovery that there is at least one thing I hate doing more than paying someone to do something I could do myself and that is cleaning the outsides of windows! So I hired a window cleaner and never looked back.
There will always be things we don’t like doing that we just have to do (ya know, like go to work, or fold the 12th load of laundry this week) but if there’s something we can get off our plates, then why not?
4. Write Down One Good Thing About Every Day
So far so good on this one. Some days are more impressive than others, sometimes it’s “published my first blog post!” (today, right now), sometimes it’s just “finally finished reading “The Whole Brain Child””.
This activity helps me focus on the positives in life, the little differences that make every day unique, instead of dwelling on the everyday monotony that eventually wears me down into a stub of a human being.
I intend to keep this one up all year then sit down on Hogmany and read about the awesome year I just had.
5. Festive Family Feuds
If fights with family/friends have got you down it’s time to decide – do we forgive and forget, or say “fuck it” and cut the toxic people out of our lives?
Was it the stress of the day combined with a few too many alcoholic beverages, or is this a more common occurrence, a constant resurgence of tensions that have become almost inevitable every time you visit? Would 2018 be less stressful if you distance yourself from them, or cut them out entirely?
It’s a big decision to make, but we have to take care of ourselves too.
6. Sugar Rush/Crash/Rush/Crash/Rush/Crash
Yeah let’s not do that this year. This time, eat the remaining chocolate slowly (she types after consuming an entire chocolate orange…) and avoid the constant sugar rush-crash cycle that completely exhausts my body.
Likewise, if your New Year’s Resolution is to eat healthily, don’t do it cold turkey (no Christmas pun intended). Your body needs to adjust. Don’t eat your bodyweight in chocolate and drink an ocean of wine on Dec 31st then nothing but kale and celery on Jan 1st. You’ll feel like shit.
7. Lost Sleep Over Christmas
Too many parties and not enough sleep makes us weary and lethargic. Not much we can do about it now right enough, but take it easy and don’t expect too much of yourself. And maybe keep it in mind this December.
(Aye right, pass me the prosecco and let’s party ‘til dawn!)
8. Go Outside, Even (Especially) When I Don’t Feel Like It
Cabin fever is my worst enemy. Stuffy, stale air. The same 4 walls everywhere I go. No one around but a grumpy, teething toddler. No thank you. I am done. Go outside Steph.
9. Take Up A New Hobby
I started learning Italian and Japanese last year via Duolingo and I absolutely love it. I hated languages with a burning passion when I was at school but learning is way more fun when you’re not being forced (and you have a game to help!).
This year I’m blogging! Hello!
Okay, I’m not going that far, but it’s the urge I got after taking down the Christmas decorations. The house felt bare and empty and devoid of colour. We all know the feeling right?
So why not try changing things up a bit? Put up a new picture, buy a plant, reorganise your ornaments (or furniture even), get a new rug, go the whole hog and tear off the wallpaper! It doesn’t have to be extravagant, just get something nice to look at!
11. Give Myself Something to Look Forward To
My January is pretty desolate, with nothing to celebrate, no birthdays, no holidays, nothing. I’m thinking of starting a new tradition, inventing a holiday. Something daft like Snuggle Up And Read Day, Pillow Fort Day, The Floor Is Lava Day. Or something serious like Act of Random Kindness Day, Write A Letter Day, Child-Free Day (hahaha I wish).
I saw someone post about how January is their favourite month of the year as it’s their wedding anniversary, so a January wedding might not have been a terrible idea after all!
12. Give Myself Something to Look Forward To 2
Also want to arrange something for later this year. Girl’s Night, book gig tickets, plan that road trip we’ve never got around to, actually go canoeing, maybe even a holiday away if the bank balance permits. We’ll see.
So there’s my January. It’s looking a lot more worth living that every other January of my life. How are you going to turn your soggy January into a cocktail of good days?