With the holiday season now fading fast in our short term memories, replaced with the dreary greyness of January and the harsh realities of another year, you might be forgiven for feeling a little blue.
In fact, in 2017, January 16th is considered the most depressing day of the year – dubbed ‘Blue Monday’ by the headline-loving press. So whether it’s the sadness at packing away those decorations for another year, a lack of funds after an expensive Christmas, or perhaps the relentless messages telling us we all need to get fit and healthy in January – we all need something to cheer us up.
Fear not – I’ve got a few suggestions for some simple ways to cheer yourself and the family up in January – and maybe even through the rest of 2017!
Plan some short breaks
January is traditionally a boon time for the holiday industry, with everyone deciding that it’s the easiest way to cheer themselves up after the cold winter months. Obviously that’s great if you can afford it, but if you’ve had an expensive Christmas it might not be ideal.
Holiday breaks don’t need to be expensive though – in fact, if you can get yourself into the swing of camping, they can be super-cheap. We’ve become hardened campers since having children, and we haven’t looked back since buying all the equipment 5 or 6 years ago. And the best part is, if you need to buy some new camping equipment, January sales is the perfect time! So plan yourself a few long weekends and camping trips now, and get something to look forward to in your calendar.
Get yourself outdoors in the countryside
There are very few places in the UK where you are more than 10 or 15 minutes by car or public transport away from some beautiful countryside. And with organisations like the National Trust making it even easier for you to get active and explore some of the country’s amazing places, there’s no excuse not to spend some time amongst the twigs and leaves at this time of year.
In fact, if you invest in a National Trust membership now, you’ll be getting value out of it throughout the whole of 2017. If you’re a penny-pincher like me, why not keep a running total of all the entry fees you’ve saved by being a member throughout the year. Our best year so far was over £500 in fees saved, simply by having a £90-odd family membership!
Binge-watch some great TV
I invested in a Netflix subscription a couple of years back, and I’ve not looked back since – their offering gets better month after month, and more great shows keep getting announced. If you’re new to Netflix and looking for some recommendations, I can highly recommend Breaking Bad, Orange is the New Black, the Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, Making a Murderer (give it a few episodes), the Marvel TV shows, Burning Love and the wealth of great documentaries they’ve got on there. It’s definitely worth the money.
Top tip: you can buy Netflix vouchers from those gift card counters at the supermarket – and they often have 15 per cent off. I grab a few when I see them on offer and add them to my account, meaning I rarely have to pay the full price.
Start working through that pile of books
If you’re anything like me, the busy approach to the festive season means you might not have reached up to the bookshelf for a while – I know I’ve got at least a dozen books in my ‘to read’ pile at the moment. And these cold winter months are the ideal time to curl up in a cozy armchair and start working through them.
A podcaster I listen to recently started up a 50 Pages a Day campaign, suggesting you read 50 pages each day – an achievable amount which I’ve managed to stick to for the past few months. So why not challenge yourself to do a bit more reading this winter?
Get round to those home improvements you’ve been putting off
If you’re anything like me, taking the Christmas decorations down can be a bit of a depressing job – as well as packing away the festive fun for another year, you spot all those jobs you’ve been putting off. Why not take the opportunity to plan a few home improvements for the next few months?
Plan it smart and you could get a few bargains in the sales to help, and it’s not like you’re going to be spending a lot of time out in the garden at the moment. So dig out that paintbrush and spruce things up a bit!
So, those are 5 of my tips, but I’m sure there are many more great ideas out there just waiting to be discovered. Whatever you do, keep your chin up – Spring is just around the corner!
Henry Elliss is a digital marketer by day and a pun-loving, dad-blogging, photo-taking, Lego-making, beard-wearing, child-caring father of two and husband of one by day, night, weekend and every other moment. For more family adventures, reviews and parenting hints and tips, visit Henry’s Fatherhood blog at www.henrysblog.co.uk/.