There’s January blues. Blue Monday. Failed resolutions by the 2nd Jan. Cold weather and dark days. Nothing to look forward to for the foreseeable. Fun times all round.
I usually hate January. I generally really feel my mood plummeting in the lead-up to Christmas, not to return to that sweet endorphin-fuelled happiness until springtime. However, this year, I’ve not felt quite so bad as usual – I actually feel decent – and with want of writing a positive, lighthearted mid-week post, I thought I’d explore why this might be.
Now university is over and I have an actually healthy mindset, routine and schedule (happy days) I can think clearer about what makes me happy, what the whole ‘self-care’ shebang is and what might actually keep me sane through these dark months. And I think I’ve been doing okay at looking after myself through my least favourite (look at me being positive and not saying worst lol) time of the year. So here are some lil thoughts on how we can make it through January relatively unscathed:
1) Literally reading everything and anything and becoming the very definition of a book worm
Who’s kidding? I am a book worm – and always have been. I’ve been a writing and reading nerd since I was a 9-year-old jotting down ridiculous stories in notebooks. I love reading because it just feels relaxing to me – it transports me to a place where I’m not thinking about anything negative, and I’m just absorbed in the lives of the characters within the novel.
I’m also a magazine fiend – and I will buy as many issues of Cosmopolitan, Elle and Vogue as I can – among others. This is the most beautiful joy I’ve found this January, because now I’m finally settled in Bristol and university is finally behind me, I can read what the heck I like (and not have to annotate on the frickin’ pages for an exam – which always hurt my soul lol). Cuddling up to read in bed or on the sofa is the quietest little joy – and that makes January *actually* cosy!
2) Trying to regularly go to the gym – because, surprisingly, those people that said it would be good for me are actually nearly right???
I’ve scoffed at people who told me that going to the gym might be a nice thing to do. I’m, frankly, an exercise-phobe. I’m the least sporty person you’ve ever met and I’d be quite content to eat a share bag of chocolate on the sofa every night after work instead of heading to the gym and attempting to burn 500 calories.
But here I am in January, hitting the gym three times a week after work – and although I can’t quite say I’m ‘loving it’ or that I feel those addictive happiness endorphins coursing through my veins, I do genuinely feel like going to the gym is a good space to switch off my noisy brain. I just listen to upbeat, fast music, attempt to run in time to the beat (rather unsuccessfully) and don’t think about anything other than the sounds of my fave bands and the fact that I’m quite sweaty and tired.
And magically, it stops my worrisome little brain feeling stressed or low. Setting yourself goals like this in January can make you feel like you have a kind of purpose in the months where you just feel like you want to go into hibernation mode and do nothing productive. ‘Tis kinda good.
3) Taking moments just for myself – and not feeling guilty about that
I have always struggled SO hard with just being content to do something FOR ME and having a quiet one in instead of rushing out to do something with pals whenever there’s a social occasion. I’m such a people pleaser, and I don’t think about myself enough. Something I’ve really learnt since moving to my adorable little flat in Bristol and seriously thinking about how to look after myself more after uni, is that I literally can just decide to stay inside and do nothing on my own and it be totally fine.
I’ve struggled for a long time since my Dad died about being alone with my thoughts, and I do still struggle with being alone sometimes, but on the whole I’m kind of weirdly enjoying it now?! In January, it’s especially important when so many of us are feeling low, to not push yourself and do only what you feel comfortable with – and that’s what imma doing to get me through the month.
4) Trying to soak up the sunshine whenever possible
The last few days in Bristol have been glorious weather! These pics were taken on Sunday, when myself and Sam were taking a little wander around Clifton. It’s been bladdy freezing, but the sun has had his hat on, well and truly.
I cannot explain how much I feel my mood lift when the sun is shining – it’s literally tangible – I can feel a weight lifting off my shoulders and a smile creeping onto my face when I wake up and see that it’s a sunny day. I’m such a summer baby – I’m here for spring and summer. I hate winter with a passion. So learning to get outside the moment the sun rears his lil head is something that really helps me through the darkest month.
5) Exploring new places every week
I think a biiig factor in me tolerating January this year is the fact that I’ve recently moved to my dear Bristol and there’s just so much to explore. But regardless, wherever you find yourself this January, wrap up warm and get out and about exploring areas and places you’ve never been to before, because it’ll add an element of excitement into the dullest of months. It’ll make it feel like January’s actually worth something.
6) Making sitting-inside-doing-nothing as enjoyable as possible
Snuggling up with a blanket to binge-watch Netflix. Cosying up with a book on the armchair by the window and people-watching my adorable lil street. Playing board games (yes, I’m 85) or *God forbid* watching Sam play Xbox and laughing at how into the game he gets. Taking a warm bath, throwing on an episode of Brooklyn 99 (the show I wish I’d written) and carelessly throwing a Lush product into the bathtub, just because I can. Picking up my guitar or playing the keyboard (both are things I’m still to have time to do this month yet I’m planning on it because I know it’ll make me feel happier).
I’m someone that likes to be on the go – I always like being busy – but this month I’m actually kind of enjoying the whole nothing to do, nowhere to go vibe – and this is totally new for me. I think it’s because I’m finally realising it’s okay to just DO NOTHING. The always-go pressure of university can get loooost lol.
7) Planning for future fun times
I’ve got a weekend away planned next weekend. I’ve got the fricking best internship of my LIFE lined up in March, where I’ll be living in London for two weeks by myself *gulp with nerves but I’m also kinda excited somewhere in there*. I’m looking ahead and trying to plan where I want things to go come summer and September. I’m also trying to save for something exciting. I’m trying to throw something fun into every single weekend so I’ve got lil things to look forward to.
It’s actually fun to plan and dream of times to come – and this is something that’s very much getting me through January. Maybe it’s worth writing in a diary every day – or using a wall calendar to plan ahead – just so you can have a wee smile about what’s to come each and every day.
8) Keeping myself distracted
This one’s difficult, because I have a very irritating brain. But I’m currently doing a half decent job at this. I keep myself busy, but not too busy, allowing myself space to relax. And when I’m relaxing, I make sure I do something that’ll distract myself if I’m feeling off kilter. Whether that’s reading, binge-watching box sets or, indeed, blogging, keeping myself distracted works very well in January, which is always a difficult month. I suggest you too distract yourself with the good shit – the kinda stuff you know works for you.
9) Remembering that the dark days will pass
This! Is! A! Big! Part! Of! January!! Literally reminding yourself ‘it’s x many days until February comes and then by the time March is here it’s practically spring’. Time flies so so quickly, and it’s good to keep yourself preoccupied with that thought. Before you know it, summer will be here, and we’ll be getting our legs out in 15 degree weather in true British style. Fun times ahead; dark days can say goodbye!
10) Thinking about – and listening to – my thoughts more
I’m learning to listen to my body and realise when it’s time to take things a little easier. For example, I’ve realised now that I’m often hitting an anxious patch if I have a series of bad dreams so many nights in a row (I usually don’t dream at aaaall – and when I do, they’re baaad haha) or if my heart rate is quickening and I feel tense.
When this happens, I know it’s time to slow down for a day or two – come straight home from work instead of going to the gym, put some joggers on and get comfy with my laptop to do freelance work early. Read my book to get myself out of the headspace.
I’m trying better to listen to my body and what it needs – because I neglected it for so long whilst I was at university, and I know we shouldn’t take our minds and bodies for granted.
I think it’s worth you too listening to what you need this month, and don’t ever feel pressured to make that social gathering if you don’t want to, or perform to your usual super high standard at work if you’re having a rough day. Let’s all cut ourselves some slack this Jan and before ya know it, happier times will be here!