So we have finally reached January 2017. well done to us. Honestly, I think everyone deserves a serious pat on the back for getting through 2016. It was quite the year, it still exhausts me just thinking about it sometimes.
The coming of a new year is a wonderful opportunity to set goals and make positive changes in our lives, but it can also place a lot of pressure on us to change and improve, perhaps when we are not ready to. Scrolling through social media last week I was hit by the sheer volume of posts containing promises of 'cleanses, detoxes, diets, transformations and goals.' It was kind of exhausting if I am honest. on Instagram last week i wrote about the small goals I had set for myself this year, but in light of all this hyperbole, I felt like I was not aiming high enough, that I could do more. I started to write them out again, looking at courses I could take or new things I could try. I very quickly began to feel exhausted. I realised I was putting myself under a huge amount of pressure to do things when I simply did not have the where with all to do it.
For many of us, particularly those with anxiety and depression, January can be a difficult time. All that family time at Christmas, whilst wonderful, can be very stressful as well as the digestive discomfort and lethargy that comes from eating your body weight in Galaxy (just me?) Dark and cold mornings with the lack of vitamin D can make locating your get up and go a real struggle. Not to mention the financial pain of a 5 week month just after Christmas. This year I got paid the third week of December, so I have 7 of these weeks to drag myself though! Essentially, everything about this month makes you want to hibernate and stay cosy until a more acceptable time, say mid-February.
This low point in the year can be difficult to navigate in its own right but when surrounded by the onslaught of 'new year, new you' promises made by companies and some influencers, you can end up feeling inadequate even before the year has truly begun.
So, what are you to do with yourself if, like me, you find January hard but would like to make some manageable and positive changes, but do not know where to even start and, also like me, you are totally broke. Here you will find some entirely free ways to make January more bearable and create beneficial habits that you can build on at a pace which is comfortable for you.
There is honestly nothing better than getting out in the fresh air. I know it is cold, I know it is usually wet, but trust me, just being outside and simply breathing is wonderfully cathartic. There is a lot of evidence to suggest that reconnecting with nature is a hugely powerful tool to combating anxiety. I am not suggesting that you need to go on a 5 mile hike but aim to put some time everyday to go for a walk. Start with 10 minutes on your lunch break and add to it as you are able.
Do Something Creative
I cannot draw. Do not play Pictionary with me, you will only be disappointed. However, I have found that doing something creative can be hugely beneficial for your well being and it does not need to be expensive. If you sing, maybe try and find a local choir; if you write, dig out a old note book; if you draw, grab some scrap paper and doodle. If you don't do any of these things, why not try one of the free colouring in sheets from the Blurt Foundation? Colouring in has been found to increase mindfulness and relax you, as well as being just plain pleasant thing to do with a cup of tea.
Try Some Exercise
It is no secret that exercise is incredibly powerful in improving well being. At this time of year though so many gyms and studios are attempting entice people with their '30 classes in 30 days' packages which can create ridiculous standards that even I would be terrified to attempt. This simply isolate a huge group of people that could benefit from exercise the most. If you are wanting to try and get moving more this year and do not feel ready or cannot afford to join a gym, why not try one of the brilliant online sites that provides free workouts you can do at home? My personal favourites are Yoga with Adriene, Bender Fitness and Fitness Blender but there are 100s out there to try. All these sites provide thousands of totally free home workouts that will cater to any level of fitness.
These are just a couple of ideas that I will be utilising this month to start 2017 in a positive way that is not overwhelming. If you have any suggestions of things you do to get through January, I would love to hear them! Get in touch on Social Media or just comment below!