Is January the most depressing month of the year? Christmas is over, it’s cold and grey, you might be submitting your tax return, you’re out of cash after Christmas, you’ve gained a few festive pounds…the list of reasons why this part of winter is no one’s favourite time of year could go on and on. You probably have a few to add yourself and if you look around you, the grim stares on most people’s faces will confirm that others are feeling the same. However, while on paper this may be a fairly challenging time, you don’t have to suffer with the winter blues, as we’ve got some tips to help put a smile back on your face again.
See family and friends
As many of us are trying to save money at the start of the year, or perhaps attempt a ‘Dry January’ or introduce a new fitness regime, we often sacrifice friends and family visits, particularly if these usually involve eating or drinking. However, this is exactly the time of year that you need your nearest and dearest so don’t skimp on the socialising.
Get your finances in order
Christmas is expensive – that’s something we all know – and if you’re staring at your bank and credit card statements and feeling a bit depressed then now is the time to take action. Consider consolidating debts or taking out a loan with a lower interest rate than whatever you currently have to reduce the amount you’re paying for your borrowings. Sit down and work out a repayment plan for any debts you want to be rid of – choose small, manageable amounts that you know you can meet without getting into trouble each month.
Get out and about
The temptation is, when the temperature drops, to just stay inside, finish up all the leftover Christmas chocolates and pine for a few weeks ago when everything was festive and bright. Avoid this at all costs – the only way to beat the winter blues is to get out and get active. Fresh air will help to clear your head and you’ll instantly feel more positive and engaged by doing something that gets your heart rate up, plus the exposure to the Vitamin D in the sunlight will have a protective effect against multiple diseases and conditions. It may seem like a pointless exercise at the time but something as simple as a 30 minute walk a day can help you lose the Christmas weight, flood your body with feel-good endorphins and remind you that there’s a world outside your sitting room.
Avoid onerous resolutions
It’s easy to make resolutions for the new year that involve excessive routines and restrictions when you’re knee deep in Christmas cake and turkey but these can be responsible for a real drop in positivity when January comes around and you’re forced to try and carry them out. Rather than committing to eating only vegetables, or going to the gym seven days a week, try to think of positive changes that will make a difference that are easier to incorporate. Perhaps set yourself the challenge of learning a vegetarian recipe a week – that can positively affect both health and finances – or join a running group to meet exercise goals and meet new people. There are so many ways to achieve what you want to this year, it doesn’t have to be a painful and depressing process.
Set yourself a challenge
See above and don’t make this a challenge that is unachievable or very focused on success and failure. The idea behind this challenge is to help distract you when you start to feel the winter blues creeping in and to introduce something new into your life. You might want to sign up for a sporting event – avoid marathons if you’ve only just started running and perhaps choose a half marathon or a park run. Perhaps you want to learn about French cinema or watch all the films of Will Ferrell – why not join a class or sign up for a film streaming service and set yourself the challenge of writing your own reviews. Your challenge could be something sociable – meet three new people this month – or maybe there’s something you’ve always wanted to learn but never done. Whether it’s Spanish classes, pancake making, horse riding, coastal walking or becoming an encyclopedia on your favourite actor, choose a challenge that you will enjoy doing and one which will enrich your life in the process.
Oliver Jones has written for Solution Loans since 2015. His passion for personal finance comes through in the 150+ blog posts he's written since that time. His talent for explaining all things money means he's covered topics as diverse as...Read more about Oliver Jones