5 things you can do to immediately make January less shit
Because this time of year can do weird things to your head.
We all know that January sucks, so let’s not dwell on the whys. Instead, here’s a list of proactive things you can do to make it less dire.
(An audio version of this post - me reading it aloud and realising I don’t know how to pronounce loads of the words I’ve written - can be found below)
Schedule an 8-minute phone call with a mate
The psychologist behind this theory says: ‘We tend to think that in some unspecified future, we’ll have a ‘time surplus’ where we’ll be able to connect with old friends’, which is, of course, bollocks and never happens. Ergo, we can gradually lose touch with people we love. (The therapist didn’t say ‘bollocks’, I paraphrased.)
Eight minutes, on the other hand, is doable. It means you can keep up the friendship momentum, experience the pleasure of hearing someone’s voice, assuage the guilt of being ‘a rubbish mate’, and cover key news – all without staring down the barrel of a two-hour catch-up.
Ask a pal if they’re up for an eight-minute chat, no matter how batshit it sounds. Then, when the time is up, clock off. You’ll both be more likely to keep it up if you know it’ll actually only be eight minutes. (Obvs stay on if they’re having a drama and need support. That just proves the system works as otherwise you’d never have known.)
Stop clock watching if you can’t sleep
Counting down the hours you have left to sleep – ‘I’ll get three hours if I fall asleep now’ – is one of the loneliest and most panic-inducing things you can do. Clock-watching actively keeps you awake as your brain is primed to assess the situation. That’s why you suddenly jerk awake thinking, ‘Was I asleep?!’ getting even more livid when you realise you were.
Checking the time only aggravates your anxiety (and messes with your melatonin levels if you use your phone clock which emits blue light). Instead, tell yourself it’s 2am. Your brain will accept this without panicking because you’ll still be able to get a few hours of sleep before having to get up.
(This tip is taken from my book, ‘This Book Will Make You Sleep’)
Successfully silence social media for a bit (without having to delete apps or make a scene)
If you want a break from social media (including WhatsApp), yes, you can turn off notifications, but you still know the madness is continuing behind-the-scenes. For a proper timeout – one that doesn’t involve deleting apps from your phone or flouncing out of groups – turn off your wifi so you’re only using 4G (or 5G if you’re fancy), go to ‘settings’ then ‘mobile data’ and deselect all the apps you want to silence for a while.
Those apps are now offline, meaning no messages can be received or sent, and anyone trying to reach you will think you’re off-grid. Little do they know that you’re still glued to all of your other apps that are working as normal.
Peace at last.
(This tip is from Kate Lucey’s brilliant book, ‘Get a Grip, Love’)
Neck a glass of water first thing
This is from Olly Foster, the personal trainer I collaborated with on Gemma Atkinson’s books. And, for such a small thing, it surprisingly makes a lot of difference. Necking a glass of water immediately upon waking kickstarts your digestive system and hydrates your parched body, making you feel more alert physically and mentally. If the first thing you drink is coffee, you’re directly working against your body and so will feel iffy. Soz.
Just one more thing…
Alcohol swigging is a tricky business. Especially at this time of year when everyone is wanging on about Dry January which can make you feel weirdly defensive.
One thing I did last year that helped was download the app Drink Free Days. You simply select how many days a week you’d like to be drink-free and then track how you get on.
Another good bet is the Try Dry app, which lets you select whether you ‘stayed dry’, ‘drank’ or ‘drank as planned’. Again, there’s no value judgement, subtle or otherwise. It’s just about becoming more aware of what you’re drinking and why, and how it makes you feel.
Downloading a monitoring tool like these can feel like you’re addressing something that’s on your mind, without having to deep-dive into what it all means before you’re ready. The apps also offer a good reason for not drinking if anyone asks: “I’m trying out a new health app and this is one of my drink-free days”.
While none of the above is going to change your life, they can all contribute to making what can be a difficult month slightly less grim. Please share in the comments any tips you’ve implemented this January that are helping – I’d love to know what’s working!
Good luck and see you next week.
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Great January advice 👏🏼
Love it Jo! Looking forward to the next one.