Last week, I felt as if the dark days of winter had manifested themselves across my face.
Besides having dry skin, an eruption of spots, and dark circles under my eyes, a glance in the mirror at work one day revealed what I had already suspected- that I was wearing a perpetual grimace. Despite all my best intentions, I’d once again succumbed to the dreariness of January and allowed myself to feel as if the apocalypse was imminent. Like so many people throughout the northern hemisphere, I was experiencing a serious case of the January blues.
After a few days in hibernation mode, I felt that it was time to force myself into some action. Although getting plenty of rest can be a good thing, I’m the type of person who thrives on positivity, creativity…and a project. So, in addition to my 30 Before 30 reading challenge, I decided to start a Positivity Project. To be honest, it’s not so much a project- rather a short list of things to do in an effort to help me maintain my sanity until winter is over, and endeavour to embrace some metaphorical sunshine. It’s all quite obvious, but as it seems to be working, I thought I’d share it…
The Positivity Project
1. Visit a new place
January can be a difficult month to visit somewhere new; generally it’s the time when we have the least amount of money, and are most reluctant to enter the outside world due to our tendency to slip into ‘snuggle’ mode.
Travelling to a previously unexplored place really lifts my spirits though; it reminds me that there’s an exciting world outside of my mundane existence, and the change in scenery energises me in a way that nothing much else can. Last weekend, I visited two new places: Lincoln, a quaint city with an amazing cathedral and castle, and Penistone, a lovely little town in Yorkshire with some cute cafes and plenty of countryside. Though they were very different experiences, both contributed to a much more positive mood; clearly I just needed to escape!
2. Plan things to look forward to
Generally, nothing much happens in January- everyone’s waiting for their bank balance to recover from Christmas and/or for spring to blossom. Planning things to look forward to is, therefore, a necessary way of ensuring you don’t descend into craziness. Without the prospect of future fun, how are you supposed to endure the seemingly endless bleakness?
Focusing on the fact that I have numerous 30th birthdays, a hen do, a wedding, and some potential trips away on the horizon has definitely made me feel much brighter. It may be a bit monotonous at the moment, but it’s definitely going to be an eventful year overall.
3. Spend time with people who make you happy
It’s pretty obvious, but sometimes we become so immersed in our own misery that we forget that the simple answers are often the best.
Catching up with the people who make me smile, including some friends that I haven’t seen for months, has been conducive to a much happier state of mind over the last week. Though it’s easy just to cancel in favour of an early night/a day at home at this time of year, we can’t allow SAD to win!
4. Get creative
What works for me is not necessarily always going to be effective for others, but as a creative type, I find that a session of focused creativity every once in a while really enhances my spirits. Last year, I started a Craft Club with a friend in a conscious attempt to be creative more regularly and try to develop new skills. Whilst I’m definitely not the world’s best seamstress (and believe me, there have been some disasters!), getting creative with my sewing machine allows me to indulge a passion and feel like I’ve achieved something (providing it goes to plan!). To banish the January blues this week, I customised a bag. It was a simple task, but it instantly brightened my mood.
5. Be positive!
So many people don’t actually realise that the language they use is really negative. Until I had some professional coaching, I’d never noticed that I was constantly saying things like ‘no’, ‘don’t’, ‘won’t’ and ‘shouldn’t’- words that, ultimately, have a detrimental impact on our state of mind.
Anyone who’s ever read Danny Wallace’s Yes Man (one of the funniest things I’ve ever read) will understand the power of ‘yes’. Being positive opens your eyes to new experiences and can have a magnetic effect on the people you meet. I appreciate that many people don’t believe in the effects of positive thinking (and even find it annoying), but relatively new research does show that happiness and health are linked, therefore the more positive you are, the more likely it is that you’ll live through many more days of January…oh joy of joys!
Wherever you are in the world, I hope you’re enjoying a positive January!