After weeks and months of festive preparations and celebrations, January can all too easily feel like an anti-climax. For most of us, December is often an eventful month, when we take time out of our normal schedules to celebrate Christmas with friends and loved ones. Our houses are adorned with lights and our taste buds indulge in festive fare. It’s no wonder then that January can seem cold, mundane and, quite frankly, disappointing. Just as most people dread the prospect of work on a Sunday evening, I was once a person who would dread the start of a new year. “This year will be my year”, I would often profess. With the whole year ahead of me, it always felt as if I was under pressure to achieve great things. The cold and dark nights would often feel like a novelty in the run-up to Christmas, but in January, quite the opposite. Like falling into a dark and uninviting hole, the joy of December would feel like a life-time away. I would often count down the days to the end of the month, sometimes even to the end of February. It is, however, a result of those feelings that I have come to realise how to face January in a more positive way and would consequently like to share those thoughts and experiences to help you to better face the new year.
Dont Set Unrealistic Goals
I can’t stress this enough. January is indeed a great time of the year to set goals, but in setting unrealistic goals (let’s face it, we’ve all done this at one point or another), you are simply setting yourself up for failure, which in itself can bring about feelings of self-doubt and anxiety. Take some time out to really think about what you are trying to achieve and why. Consider the time frame in which you are planning to achieve your goal and ask yourself if it is doable. Is your goal realistic? Are you in any way putting yourself under pressure to achieve what you have set out to do? If you are, consider revising the time frame or indeed the goal itself.
Weight loss is a popular goal in the new year, especially for those who have overindulged during the festive season. As a Nutritional Therapist, having supported many people with undesired weight gain, the focus is all too often on numbers; dress sizes and numbers on scales. The problem with this approach is that any achievements less than the intended goal weight or dress size are often overlooked, even if a significant amount of weight has been lost. My advice is to focus more simply on being healthier; eating more plant-based foods, cooking with fresh ingredients and eating less processed/refined foods. This is often the best way to achieve healthy weight loss and is also an easier way of achieving a goal, almost instantaneously. Not only will you feel better for it physiologically, the rewards will also be felt mentally.
During the month of January, it’s all too easy to experience feelings of detachment and of isolation, particularly if anxiety is already an issue for you. When you’ve spent the last few weeks celebrating with others and seeing friends and family, January in comparison can seem very lonely. I used to feel like this myself. The simple act of taking down the Christmas decorations at the start of the new year would often leave me feeling vulnerable and withdrawn, even when surrounded by my immediate family. I now arrange to meet up with friends at least once during January, to try to break up the month. I try to stay active and get out of the house when I can, even if just for a quick walk in the fresh air. This is particularly beneficial for anyone whose commute to and from work is during the hours of darkness. I belong to a yoga group and attend classes two-three times weekly, which enables me to be more mindful and more companionable. Find out what is going on in your local community and get involved in something that appeals to your interests. In doing so, you are likely to meet people with similar interests.
Don’t be afraid to express feelings of isolation with friends and family members. They may be able to offer emotional support to help you work through your personal challenges. You may even find that other friends or family members are experiencing similar feelings. I have several friends who experience the January blues and in arranging get togethers throughout January, it helps to shine a more positive light on what can otherwise be a gloomy time.
Acknowledge Your Strengths
As someone who has always, to some degree, suffered with feelings of self-doubt, I am all too aware that acknowledging personal strengths is not always easy. Over the years, however, I have come to recognise that, in order to achieve any goal in life, we must first identify our strengths. It is those strengths that help us to achieve our goals. It is those strengths that give us strength of character and form the foundations of personal success. Taking into account any goals you have set, make a list of your own personal strengths and consider how you can use them to attain your goals. This is not always an easy task and it may well take a little bit of soul searching before you identify what they are. If in doubt, ask your close friends what they consider to be your strengths. The very fact that they are your friends suggests that they see positive attributes in you. They may well remind you of strengths you haven’t even considered. Take time this new year to listen to your inner voice, to home in on those strengths and to become a stronger version of yourself. Taking just fifteen minutes of solitude each day can enable you to do just this. Writing down your feelings in a journal format is a great way of establishing exactly what your inner voice is telling you.
Be At One With Nature This January
When I can, I like to be at one with nature, out in the woods in a quiet and rural setting. Being outside with nature helps me to reconnect with my inner voice and surroundings. In the month of January when the days are shorter, getting outside during the day (even if just for half an hour on your lunch break) can help to lessen feelings of anxiety. I personally feel a lot more liberated and relaxed when I’m outside, away from the hustle and bustle of daily life.