Forgive me for being Captain Obvious here, but my god, January is such a gloomy month.
December would probably be just as grim too, if we didn’t have the fairy lights and tinsel and the Jackson 5 Christmas album on repeat to keep us distracted. It’s as if we all morph into ravenous magpies for a few weeks every year, scavenging for more and more sparkly things to satisfy us.
But now it’s January, and we don’t have “Hope you’re all set for Christmas!” and “Any plans for New Years?’ to fill awkward silences in conversation. It’s grey and cold and dark and miserable.
We’re all broke, having spent the previous month treating €20 notes like Monolopy money. Now we’re left remembering how we offered to buy multiple drinks for literal strangers on Stephen’s Night, throwing the debit card across the counter at the bar person with bonhomie, while said strangers exclaim, “You shouldn’t have!”
It’s only in the depths of January, staring at your bank statement and awaiting your next pay cheque, that you realise they were right. You really shouldn’t have.
To add to the misery, most of us are in sugar/alcohol withdrawals, our skin is spotty and dry from the unholy trilogy of lack of sleep, forgetting to take our makeup off at 4am, and central heating, and our limbs have shrivelled through lack of use.
I don’t even drink, and I did manage to stay fit thanks to the support/intimidation of the amazing instructors at the Absolute Health and Fitness gym in Clonakilty, but I’m still recovering from a massive food hangover. I usually practise intuitive eating, but I don’t think I intuitively wanted or needed to eat five toasted cheese sandwiches a day, washed down with turmeric lattes. (The latter was made with almond milk to maintain the pretence of being ‘healthy’.)
Christmas may have been three weeks ago but still, all I want to do is huddle under my duvet until spring arrives. No wonder this is considered the most miserable month of the year, with the third Monday of January known as Blue Monday, ‘officially the most depressing day of the year’ due to the weather, post-Christmas debt, and failed New Year’s resolutions. January isn’t the right time to become a ‘New You’, as if the old you is a skin that you can shed like a snake. No, no.
This is the time to be nice to yourself. Make a list of all the simple things you enjoy, and try and do them as often as you possibly can until the sky cracks open and lets some light in. I refuse to call the following guilty pleasures, because I don’t believe we should feel guilty about pleasure, but here are some of the things I like to do to cheer myself up at this time of year.
Go the cinema alone. This is one of my favourite things to do. I get a bag of Pick N Mix, stake out my claim on the perfect seats (centre, near the front, coz I’m blind and old now) and loudly shush anyone talking/checking their phone during the movie. I’m a delight.
Buzzfeed quizzes. I must take about ten of these a day, as I believe they hold the key to the universe, or, more importantly, the key to understanding the truth of who I am. You know it’s bad when you’re taking quizzes with titles like ‘this quiz will reveal who you are based on your salad preferences’ and ‘what kind of bread are you?”
Read a book that your English literature professor would not approve of, which usually means reading a book that’s written by women for women. It’s an insidious tenant of the patriarchy that books that are traditionally enjoyed by women usually end up with a ‘chick’ prefix so for 2019, please join me in calling bullshit on that.
Mhairi McFarlane writes wonderful romantic comedies, and Sarah Dessen, Jenny Han, and Stephanie Perkins have all created incredibly charming love stories featuring teenage protagonists.
Closer to home, Galway author Catherine Doyle may be better known for her middle grade novel, The Stormkeeper’s Island, a smash hit in the UK, but her YA trilogy, the Blood for Blood series (billed as Goodfellas meets Romeo and Juliet), was sexy, fast-paced, and gripping. Get on it.
Create a Spotify playlist featuring bangers by 90s pop acts only.
The Spice Girls, Britney Spears, All Saints, Destiny’s Child, TLC, Alanis Morissette, etc. Throw in ‘Bitch’ by Meredith Brook for bonus points.
Turn off the Daily Mail online, and get your celebrity gossip from Lainey Gossip or Celebitchy. Both are feminist, smart, and don’t have a side of racist/misogynistic undertones.
Take a long bath. Fill it with oils and Epsom salts to detoxify your body, light a candle, and play the best of Enya. (Don’t lie to yourself: Enya is a queen and we are lucky to have her.)
Browse the Instagram account of your local animal shelter. A dog/cat is not just for Christmas, but it could be for January and beyond in 2019.
There’s nothing that boosts your mood more than snuggles from a pet, and adopting is a much better and kinder option than buying.
Buy a mattress topper. This might seem like an odd suggestion, but a fleecy, padded mattress topper will genuinely change your sleeping habits, and hence, your life. Trust me on this one.