January 2018, some thoughts and tips for coping at this time of year

Jeez, is January a tricky month! Long dark days, dreary weather, post-Xmas exhaustion, sugar and alcohol withdrawal, and pressure to make resolutions and jump on the self-improvement bandwagon all combine to make me feel a bit blue at this time of year. Add in a sleep-shy baby and it’s not a very pretty picture!

I find the preoccupation for “fresh starts” at this time of year a bit isolating – I always feel like I should be filled with enthusiasm for everything I’m going to achieve over the next 12 months, and instead all I really want to do is sit around in my PJs eating leftover Christmas chocolate and hibernating until the Spring bulbs start to appear. Just me?

Over the years I have learnt to be patient and gentle with myself and not force myself into any punishing new year regimes or resolutions that I will later regret. I usually find that by the third or fourth week of January the fog starts to lift and I begin to feel more positive about the coming year, but until then I need to ease myself in slowly and indulge in some little daily pleasures to make the month a bit more bearable.

Sometimes I feel like I’m the only one who gets a bit miserable at the start of the year but actually when I mentioned how I was feeling this week on Instagram, lots of people said that they too struggle with this time of year. It got me thinking about a few things that I do to make January a little more pleasurable, which include:

  • Lighting candles every day, even at breakfast. Nye and me love having our brekkie by candlelight as the day slowly wakes up outside;
  •  Getting outside at least once a day. A bit of chilly air in the lungs and on the cheeks makes me feel better and sleep better too. A brisk walk around the park or even 10 minutes pottering in the garden makes such a difference to my mood.
  • Using essential oils – rubbing a bit of rosehip oil into my face and hands twice a day feels luxurious and indulgent, similarly a few drops in a hot bath is a lovely wintery treat.
  • Eating vegetarian Indian food – comforting and feels virtuous too, after Christmas overindulgence. I’ve been cooking dal and mounds of steaming basmati rice, slow cooked gently spiced aubergine with peas and buttery chapattis. Heaven. (My favourite cookbooks are Madhur Jaffrey’s Indian Cookbook and Meera Sodha’s Fresh India).
  • Embracing “cosying down” in the afternoons – come 4pm I’m ready to draw the curtains, pop the kettle on and read or watch something on Netflix, and I’m not feeling at all guilty about it.
  • Making marmalade. Seville oranges are one of the best things about January, and stirring up a pot of gleaming marmalade is a comforting and happy thing to do when the weather is dismal.
  • Wearing thick socks and slippers whenever possible. Toasty feet are an imperative.
  • Plan a meal out/theatre trip/weekend away for Spring - just a little something to look forward to helps keep the blues away; it needn't be lavish, just a little treat on the horizon. 

I’m putting any plans for de-cluttering, dieting, taking up new hobbies or spring cleaning firmly on the back burner until February at the least (and only then if I feel like it). Until then, you will most probably find me curled up somewhere under a blanket, cuddling a baby and scoffing a piece of hot buttered toast.

How are you finding January? Do you struggle with it like me? If so, what are your tips for coping with this divisive month?

Mary x