January is always the hardest month of the year – the weather is gross, we’re all broke, we’re going back to work and it seems a very long time till the next celebration. Add to that a global pandemic and you’ve got a recipe for a very gloomy time.
If January is looming over like a black cloud, it’s time to take control. Every year we see tips on how to make it through January, but this year more than ever, it’s about being kind to ourselves and to others. Here’s our advice for surviving the toughest month of the year.
Focus your mind on something new
If you’re feeling sad that Christmas is over and feel like there’s not much to look forward to, create a distraction for yourself. January is a great time to take up a new hobby – it doesn’t need to be something you stick at long-term, but something small and enjoyable to pass the time. We’re loving cross-stitch right now – check out Cotton Clara for cute, super simple kits to get started.
Take control of your finances
January is one of the hardest months for budgeting - after an early payday in December, the next can feel like a lifetime away. Plus if you overspent at Christmas, you might really be feeling the pinch. Sometimes just crunching the numbers can help, though – download a budget template like this one from Money Saving Expert and enter all your incomings and outgoings so you have a full view of where your money goes. If it’s looking bleak, reach out for help. Taking control is the absolute best thing you can do to make things better, even if it’ll take a bit of time.
Get up and out
Ok, so it’s hardly ideal weather for a walk in the park… but sometimes a blast of icy air can really help to blow away the cobwebs. We’ve got a lot more staying at home ahead of us, so try to get outside in nature as much as you can. Breathe in, notice your surroundings, take a new route, leave your phone at home.
Prioritise your mental health
Mental health can take a real battering in January – little sunlight, not much prospect of socialising and no money to spare, it’s a bleak old month and that can really take its toll. Try to recognise any signs that you or your loved ones are struggling – if you’re feeling withdrawn or like you don’t want to get up in the morning, there may be something more going on than just the January Blues.
Listening to your symptoms and taking action to help is a huge step towards improving your mental health, so tune into those feelings and confide in someone if you need a helping hand. It’s ok not to be ok, but things will get better. Charities like The Samaritans and Mind have lots of resources to help you identify signals and deal with difficult emotions.