Let’s face it, January is no one’s favourite time of year. It’s cold, dark and usually quite wet (let's not forget January 2014, when it rained for 23 of the 31 days). It’s also home to what’s been dubbed the ‘most depressing day of the year’, Blue Monday), which falls on the 20th.
If you’re feeling a little blue after the magic of Christmas has died down, remember that this is perfectly normal. The build up to anything can inevitably leave you feeling deflated when it’s over.
Instead of stressing and sending yourself into an even darker hole, channel your efforts into little acts of self-care that make you feel better. And most importantly, go easy on yourself - January is only one month and it’ll be over before you know it! (If nothing else, you can rest easy in the knowledge that the season of forced family fun is over for another year.)
Take up a new hobby
It’s a bit of an obvious blues-buster, but you don’t need to take up an obvious hobby. While gyms will be firing out half-price deals everywhere you look, take a minute to think about how busy they’ll be. Skip the sweaty hell that’s a standard Monday night at Fitness First and try something new altogether.
You might like the social sports clubs Go Mammoth and Rabble. They offer a range of different classes (including indoor sessions if you don’t fancy freezing on a pitch in January). Choose from American Football, Ultimate Frisbee, Rounders, Pilates and loads more. It’s also a good opportunity to meet new people if you feel like broadening your social circle.
If you’re not the sporty type, there are plenty of creative offerings in cities around the UK, from pottery to book clubs and life drawing classes. Time Out have made a list of the 25 weirdest workshops in London to get your creative juices flowing, or find a unique event elsewhere on Funzing. There’s never been a better time to hone your sword skills or learn how to make your own cheese.
Book a weekend away
The end of the Christmas holidays, coupled with an empty bank account, can make for a pretty depressing month. If you don’t already have anything to look forward to lined up, January is the perfect time to book a staycation.
Loads of hotels offer cheap deals to lure customers back as the new year is a traditionally quiet time, so pick somewhere on your UK bucket list and plan a weekend away. Try secret escapes or iescape. Restaurants serve up all kinds of offers in January as well, so if you’re not sick of eating out by now, find the best deals on bookatable.
If you want to go further afield, download the Lucky Trip app - just enter your budget and preferred dates into the app and it’ll magically generate ‘a trip in one tap’. You can choose from a list of holidays that all fall within your requirements (flights, accommodation and a random activity included).
When Joey assured Phoebe in Friends that there’s no such thing as an unselfish good deed, he might have been right. Science says we experience a rush of endorphins (or a ‘helper’s high’) when we do something for someone else - these reduce stress and boost happiness levels.
Somewhat selfishly, volunteering is a simple way to extend an act of kindness to someone in need while making yourself feel better. Charities tend to be inundated with willing helpers in December but this can fall flat come the New Year. Unsurprisingly, people don’t stop needing help when the Christmas decorations come down, so check out these volunteering opportunities if you want to get involved.
The Good Gym is a great way to combine being a good samaritan with getting fit. You’ll run with a group to somewhere you can carry out a good deed - it could be helping with a community project or gardening for an elderly person.
Set yourself a challenge
Stuck in a rut and not sure how to start the new year - new decade, even? Setting yourself a challenge is a great way to distract yourself from the January blues, and you’ll feel such a sense of gratification once you’ve completed it. They say that life begins when you step outside of your comfort zone, so why not tackle something you’re a bit hesitant to do but you’ve always wanted to conquer?
- If you want to get fit… download the mycrew app and get fit while having fun
- If you want to meet new people… say “yes” to everything for two months, or commit to going to a meetup that interests you every fortnight
- If you want to learn a new skill… pick a language you’ve always loved the sound of, download duolingo and attempt to learn it in 6 months
- If your NY’s resolution was to read more… join a local book club or create your own with friends
- If you want to become better with money… read our 7-step guide to a money makeover
- If you’re sick of being held to high standards… set a “no expectation” rule for 30 days, where you’re nothing but kind to yourself and forget about holding yourself to any expectations.
Enjoy the things you’ll miss when summer comes
With Christmas now a distant memory, January tends to be the time when everyone looks ahead to summer and starts to daydream about Pimms-fuelled picnics in the park. Instead of wasting these months wishing the future would hurry up, make the most of now.
The old saying ‘you don’t realise what you’ve got til it’s gone’ rings true here. Dark nights might not be your cup of tea, but they’re ideal for hibernating in your dressing gown with leftover Quality Street and not feeling bad about it. As soon as summer rears its head, you’ll probably be judged for bailing on plans to binge watch the latest Netflix series, so get your fill now.
Comfort food and nights spent by the fireplace are two things you’ll probably miss come June. Having a bath and going to the cinema are also significantly better in winter. If you’re still not convinced, some other reasons to keep the warmer months at bay include hayfever, sweaty armpits on the tube, bugs everywhere, and not being able to sleep without a fan next to your bed and an icy flannel on your forehead.
Spring clean your mind
If you think your current mental state might be down to something more complex than a simple case of the January blues, it’s important to ask yourself why. While the ideas above might help, there’s no point sticking plasters on the symptoms if you’re not addressing the cause.
Carve out some time to identify what’s making you feel down or not yourself. You might want to do this while walking or meditating. Journalling is a good way to articulate and make sense of the tangle of thoughts in your head - when you’re feeling better mentally, you can read back on your journal from January 2020 and see how far you’ve come. Whatever you do, make sure your mind is completely focused on the task at hand.
Once you’ve got a gauge on what’s holding you back, ask yourself if this is something you can work on yourself? Maybe there’s some past anger you could start to let go of, or maybe it’s time to switch up your unfulfilling routine. If you think a therapist might be the best route for you, check out this guide to finding the right therapist.