How to have a happy January (and also moderately enjoy the rest of 2019)

I’m writing this from the Burger King at Madrid Airport, so you already know my 2019 got off to a great start. A GREAT start.

But anyway, happy 2019! Brexit is imminent, the White House is still full of orange lunacy, we have less than a year left to reverse permanent damage to the Earth, and they’ve only just rumbled R Kelly. Add to this the end of Christmas and the belief that we’re supposed to survive January on celery and buckets of our own tears, and it’s no wonder that the beginning of the year is such a difficult time for many people.

For me, 2018 was great in many aspects. I started doing something I really love and now I even get paid to do it. I learned a new language. I got my own place, travelled a lot, and was regularly mistaken for a 22-year-old.

2018 was also shit in many aspects. My mum was diagnosed with cancer and went through some brutal treatment. I lost my paternal grandmother. I fell down many, many flights of stairs.

So basically, weighing everything up, my 2018 balanced out…fine. Last year, I posted my list of resolutions for the coming year, all of which I obviously smashed.  This year, I thought I would instead share my tips for a happy and productive January, tips that you can of course, carry into the rest of your year.

DON’T DO DRY JANUARY FOR EFF’S SAKE
Unless you’re struggling with your relationship to alcohol, or you have a medical condition which makes drinking difficult, DON’T DO IT. January is so depressing,
everyone is broke and grumpy, the weather is usually terrible, if there’s any reason to have a drink, this is it. If you have a healthy relationship with alcohol, there’s no reason to cut out your cheeky Friday glass of wine (or bucket of gin, if you’re me). Stop punishing yourself just because Christmas happened. Also see Veganuary.

DON’T DIET
I’m aware that being a white, cis person who falls into the category of ‘straight-size’ means that I’ve always been included when it comes to discussions around
body image. I’m very lucky in this respect and I believe it’s important to be woke to the fact that many people aren’t included in the discussions, when EVERYONE should be.

This is a separate matter I could talk about all day, but my point is, pledging yourself to this movement includes accepting yourself as you are RIGHT NOW. We all enter a self-punishment cycle in January, which is terrible. FUCK OFF. There is nothing wrong with you and forcing impossible diet and exercise regimes into your life is a way of telling yourself that you’re not good enough.

Unless someone vaguely doctorish has told you that you need to go on a specific diet, DON’T DO IT. Be nice to yourself. We’re all adults, you KNOW if you’re taking care of your body and mind or not. If you know you could do more to look after yourself, do it, but in a realistic way that works for you. And ignore the January influx of adverts for fitness trackers and diet books. You’re fine.

START A SELFISH BITCH FUND
As a Millennial, I’m probably going to be at work until ten years after I die and I’ll most likely never pay off my student loans. I started my ‘Selfish Bitch Fund’ last year to pay for things I really wanted to do within that year, for example, travelling, plus a little extra for any emergencies.

You can put your fund towards anything you like and you can even have multiple separate funds for different items. If you’re saving for the long term, make sure you take time to put some of your money into this shorter-term venture too, even if it’s just a little bit every week/month. You’ll end up with far more than you realise and it’s an extra financial cushion so you can take care of yourself should anything unexpected happen.

START A NEW HOBBY
Use January as a time to start doing the thing you’ve always wanted to do, but not in the half-arsed way most people do before they give up somewhere around April. Make a concrete plan and goals for the hobby or activity you want to do, with achievable markers of progress so you can see yourself improve. This works. I did this at the beginning of 2018 with something I always wanted to do (DJing). Three months in I had an audition at my favourite club in my city and now I play there regularly.

REDUCE SOCIAL MEDIA INTAKE
Yes, I know every semi-qualified life coach ever tells you to do this, it’s not rocket science is it. My suggestion is, don’t get rid of it. Unless you find that social media is profoundly impacting your life and causing real problems, keep it. Reduce the number of times you check your accounts. Unfollow anyone who makes you feel insecure and follow more stupid meme accounts because they can be surprisingly useful on a bad day. Use it for productive things only – checking the news, catching up with friends, posting actual interesting life updates if you want to.

IGNORE ALL BIG LIFE MILESTONES COMPLETELY
I’m turning 29 in March and every year the amount of engagement announcements and surprise babies on my news feed gets a little bit bigger. Also every year, at least one more person feels they have the right to ask me how my life is going in those departments. My answer is usually to laugh for ten minutes and then remind them that it’s none of their effing business.

Regardless of your age, you’re going to face pressure to do certain things at certain times in your life and, because 90% of the world decides to get engaged between Christmas and New Year (very original), this time of year is when the pressure is often greatest. This is a load of bollocks and you should ignore it completely. DON’T PANIC, you have time for everything you want.

MAKE A CHEER UP LIST
This is a list of things personal to you which make you happy and which you can implement at any time. I’ve been fairly open on this blog about my struggles with various mental health issues and I find this time of year can be a little difficult. My personal cheer up list includes people, songs, food, specific video clips, sex positions, dance moves, swear words, all sorts. Your list can be unique to you and you can add to it over time. Keep it somewhere where it’s easy to find (mine lives in the back of my diary) and call on it whenever you feel a bit wonky. This tactic has helped me immensely.

STAY OPEN/NEVER SAY NEVER
I literally say never all the time so this is a tad hypocritical of me, but whatever. 2017, specifically the latter half, was a very difficult time for me and when 2018 rolled around, I made a long list of things I would NEVER DO because they would prevent me from being a better version of myself.

The biggie for 2018 was that I was NEVER GOING TO GET INTO A RELATIONSHIP EVER AGAIN NO SIR. I met someone in May who changed my perspective on this entirely and, despite my initial resistance because NEW YEAR’S RESOLUTIONS, I am now in an extremely happy, relaxed, open, wonderful place with a very cool person. So don’t put too many limits on yourself, stay open.

PRETEND ITS FEBRUARY
This also works. Happy January everyone!

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