January can be such a difficult month. Not only is everyone skint from the festivities and not feeling 100% due to overindulgence, it’s a long old slog. The days are short, the nights are long and if you work 9-5pm Monday to Friday, you hardly ever seen daylight.
It’s a reflective time and sometimes that can be a challenge, mentally and emotionally. I always find January a bit of a struggle however I’ve found ways of making it more bearable and enjoyable which I’d thought I’d share in case it helps anyone else who feels the same.
I’ve been getting back into reading every day and I had forgot how much I love it. The ability of a book take your mind away from the doom and gloom, somewhere different, somewhere new, somewhere unpredictable is an absolute joy and I’ve made my way through a few books in the last month or so. I’ve gained an extra an hour in the mornings as I used to start work at 8am and in my new job I start at 9am. As much as I’d prefer to spend that extra hour in bed, being most productive early in the morning has allowed me to use that time to do things I don’t normally find time for. I generally fall asleep after a few pages at night therefore it usually takes me a while to get through a book but with this extra hour in the morning, I’ve been whizzing through books.
2. Book or plan a trip
Now this might seem difficult if you are struggling financially after the festive period which is undoubtably the most expensive time of year for a majority of people however there are ways of securing trips and holidays without having to fork out a lot of money in January. You could book flights for a city break and secure a hotel which allows you to reserve but pay on arrival, delaying the financial commitment for that part of the trip until further down the line. You could book a holiday and opt for a zero or low deposit with the balance typically due 12 weeks prior to departure. I’m currently looking at holidays for November and the deposit options range from zero initially (with a deposit of around £150pp due within 4 weeks) to as low as £100-£150pp. Depending on when you plan to travel you could also opt for a direct debit scheme which allows you to pay a small amount up front with regular payments thereafter to clear the balance. Again this is a way of reducing the cost and means you don’t need to pay the full amount up front.
If you already have travel plans, research what you might want to do while there. Plan out a rough itinerary, check if there’s anything interesting or significant happening while you’re there. Book tickets for a show or a concert, maybe an artist you haven’t seen before is in the area at the same time.
3. Cherish those close to you & spend time with family and friends
I can’t stress enough the importance of savouring every minute with the people important to you. The smiles on your loved ones faces, the laughter with your friends over the silliest little thing or the comfort of a warm embrace. This is not something just for January, this is something to remember every single day. It’s often when things change or someone becomes unwell that we realise the importance of it. Don’t wait until that happens, enjoy it now while in the moment.
Alternate visits to each others houses and cook for each other to keep costs down or if you’re a nightmare to cater for (as I am), meal prep and take food with you. Bake a cake and pop over for a cup of tea. Catch up after work or meet up at the weekend. Keep in touch or FaceTime those not close by. Make time and make the effort.
4. Enjoy a Spa day
This might seem like an expensive activity however if you plan and keep an eye out for deals and vouchers ahead of January or if you’re lucky enough to receive a gift voucher for Christmas, you can use this to your advantage to not only have an indulgent spa day in the middle of winter but to also not have to pay for it in January. Even if it’s not a full spa day, a massage or a facial or any kind of treatment on it’s own will still feel like a luxury at this time of year.
5. Get a hair cut
New year, same me has always been my moto and I don’t plan to change anytime soon however there is something about getting your hair cut that just feels refreshing. Now I’ll be honest, I still don’t enjoy the process of going and getting my hair cut but I’m getting better at committing to it more regularly (twice a year max). I can’t deny the feeling afterwards though, once I’ve come to terms with the cm I’ve lost that is. I think for women especially, hair cuts can be life changing in the sense that it’s often something we do at a pivotal point. It could be at the end of a relationship, before starting a new job or after health problems. There’s something poignant about it and the new year is as good a time as any to cut dead ends loose which brings me nicely on to my next point.
6. Have a clear out
Now this could be in terms of your wardrobe, your home, your DVD or book collection or in a more literal sense in terms of friendships or relationships that no longer serve a meaningful purpose. Social media is another area where it’s good to cleanse and get rid of anything or anyone who brings a negative energy or thought to mind. There’s people we follow simply to keep an eye on what they are up to or who they are with, we all do it. Does it bring us any joy? Does it result in any positive action? Does it fill us with inspiration? Certainly not and while it’s a difficult thing to do regardless of the context mentioned above, it’s worthwhile and satisfying and there’s no better time than the present.
7. Find a series to watch
I intentionally kept this far down the list as it’s probably the most obvious thing to do in January. A Netflix subscription won’t break the bank but it will give you a gazillion options, often too many to chose from. I’m not a big series watcher, it took me years to get through Gossip Girl and while I loved it and I’d happily watch it again, I don’t think I can justify it given the length of time it takes and the volume of other options out there to explore. The festive period and the lull thereafter is the only time I properly sit and watch tv for hours on end and until day turns to night. Some of my recent highlights include don’t f*ck with cats, You (I’ve just started season 2) and Dream/Killer. Of course, the first Winter Love Island starts tonight which love it or hate it, it’s something to watch daily and get engrossed in the lives of people you couldn’t care less about. It’s a distraction if nothing else.
8. Take control of your finances
I appreciate this is probably the most boring but it’s highly likely to be the most important. What have you got on this year or next, what’s your aims, how much do you need to save to see these things through, what can you sell to generate some extra income? These are just a few things that if you plan and commit to at the start of the year, you’ll reap the rewards as the year progresses.
9. Take control of your health
I’m 100% guilty of prioritising everything else before my health. I haven’t been to the dentist in 5 years as the last time I went they told me I needed 4 fillings (which I didn’t believe to be the case) and being extremely needle phobic, I didn’t make an appointment and didn’t dare go back out of fear. It’s crazy and to be honest I can’t believe it’s been that long since I’ve had a check up which has the potential to result in much worse treatment being required than 4 filings. The only thing I’ve bought in the sales this year is a new electric toothbrush and this week, I re-registered with the dentist and I have an appointment on Tuesday. It’s safe to say I’m not looking forward to it and I’ve already thought of a hundred reasons why I should cancel the appointment but I’m determined to get through it and to continue attending regularly to avoid any invasive action as a result of not taking care of my teeth.
Last year I had a long overdue eye test which was another thing I had been putting off. Since then I’ve been wearing glasses and although the frames and glasses I like are typically on the expensive end of the scale (what are the chances), I recently picked up an additional (emergency) pair for £39 which are lovely and totally sufficient for work and day to day wear. Of course, I’d much rather spend my money on shoes and bags and travel however there is nothing more important than your eyesight and if that means spending a few hundred pounds per year on glasses then that’s the least you should be doing and it should be prioritised over everything else.
If there’s something that you’ve been putting off in relation to your health, whether it’s an eye test, a dental check-up, a smear test or something that’s been worrying you like a mole or a lump or a set of symptoms that aren’t quite right or normal for you, please go and get it checked. Prioritise it over everything else. Take the time out of your busy day to address it. That’s the most important thing you can do this January.
10. Treat yourself
If you can’t treat yourself in the toughest month of the year when else can you? It doesn’t need to be a big thing, a lavish or bank breaking purchase, just do something for you. Get your nails done, buy that boujee tea you like to drink, restock your favourite skincare item or reward yourself with a Dior notebook like I did.