My quick (& not too serious) tips for surviving January

Iona Bain

‘Always winter, never Christmas’…(Chronicles of Narnia CS Lewis)

Are you still here? Oh good – you survived Blue Monday then.

Apparently yesterday was the day when all the festive joy comes tumbling down. There are algorithms that can accurately predict when we all suffer the big comedown, and it was January 18.   Xmas credit card bills, all those bottles for the recycling bin, new year’s resolutions forgotten in a haze of recrimination…and the news in the papers and on TV with so much human misery that we feel guilt about our own petty miseries.

The weather, mild for months, suddenly turns vicious, so we know we need to fetch supplies to keep body and soul together. Oh no, that’s mean a trip to the shops, and we will have to pass all those Xmas Jumpers (100% acrylic), now one-third off – and they couldn’t pay us to take them away. Plus we’ll have to shuffle past graveyards of Christmas trees in the street (eco-friendly, huh?) and, if you live near me in West London, big packs of mince pies on sale for 20p (yes, 20p) on the shelf at my local Co-operative.

And let’s not forget – everyone you meet is sniffling away, so we are all passing germs to one another. All that new year snogging can’t have helped! (But if you’re lucky enough to have a freshly minted romance going into the New Year, I commend you. The nights are cold enough as it is.)

So what’s to be done? Well for starters, vitamin D, the sunshine vitamin. At this time of year, the only sun we see is so low down that it dazzles us when we are driving and causes us to skid on that patch of black ice. So a trip to the chemist for a jar of Vit D pills is first. Next, get out the holiday brochures. Don’t worry you may be broke now, but by July you will just about be able to afford it.

I find crumpets and tea consistently make the world a better place, particularly if you’ve sworn off alcohol for Dry January. And about that…don’t feel guilty if you fall off the wagon. All this sobriety and exercise fanaticism is enough to make someone take a long jump off a short pier (a move they’ll have, ironically, mastered in the gym).

It sounds boring but I find that as I get older (at the grand old age of 27), the old adage of everything in moderation might just be the way to go. So don’t deny yourself, but don’t go overboard. Alcohol exacerbates underlying tendencies towards anxiety and depression, so if you’re a S-A-Ddo (that’s seasonal affective disorder patient), go easy.

Debt is perhaps the biggest burden facing many young people following the Christmas revelling but to be fair, there are plenty of ways to get on top of it. I have written some helpful guides to both credit card money transfers AND 0 per cent balance transfers to help you slim down your credit card binges, which you can find very easily on this blog, and there is always free debt advice available if you’re feeling overwhelmed courtesy of the charity Stepchange.

Also, don’t beat yourself up about broken New Years resolutions. You’ll break some or all of them at some point or another, but they are not meant to be a one-off litmus test to indicate your inherent quality as a human being. Failing to keep up resolutions is inevitable, but your response to failing them – well, that’s everything. They should be part of a process, a fabulous and very human process of aiming to do a little bit better everyday, to keep getting back up and trying, to not let life happen to us but to build our own road through it, and it will never have an end point. So, as the Americans say, keep on keeping on.

Finally I hope you haven’t thrown away all those Christmas cards you received – because you can pin up a string and pop them right back up on it to remind you of the happy times you’ve had and the people who mean a lot to you. And to remind you that Christmas will come back again.

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