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Winter Blues

Author: Lauren Coleman

The first full week of January got off to a flying start. Amongst other things I cooked not one, but three new recipes, upped my exercise regime, planned a new home project and decluttered all my beauty supplies.
I drew up a formidable list of all the things I wanted to accomplish over the second weekend and had high hopes of achieving them all. Sadly I managed just one of them and now have some very nice new tiles for the downstairs loo. Instead of going on a long walk, ticking off my gardening jobs and clearing out my fridge, my weekend was taken over by a marathon House of Cards Netflix session. I was very pleased to find from yesterday’s comments I’m not the only one who has succumbed to back-to-back box sets.

By the second week of January I was feeling deflated. I couldn’t get motivated and a very intense working week and several social engagements left me shattered. I admit I went a whole week without making any real contribution to my decluttering challenge. Dare I say it, I had the winter blues. Obviously nothing as serious as SAD, just a general dislike for season.

Now we’re in to week three of the first month of the year and I’m pleased to say I’ve got my mojo back. No Blue Monday for me.

Fresh air

Hibernation is my kind of thing. I love getting cosy, lighting the candles and snuggling under blankets with the fire roaring. It’s definitely a treat once in a while but it can also make me feel really lethargic.
Despite it being absolutely freezing outside at the weekend I resisted the urge to stay indoors and instead bundled up and got busy in the garden. Three hours and two frozen feet later I couldn’t believe how much my mood had lifted. A little bit of gentle exercise and a big tick against my January garden jobs had left me feeling rather pleased with myself. I rewarded myself with a Sunday dinner and a double helping of Yorkshire pud. Life in the fast lane.
I do find the problem at this time of year is getting the fresh air. As I have two jobs, I spend my lunchtimes grabbing a bite to eat and catching up on my other role. I’m not able to step away from my desk for a walk and sometimes the only time I get to spend outside is when I’m scraping the ice off my car. I’m sure this is the same for many of you so I’d love it if you could share how you get your vitamin D dose in the winter.

Eat healthy

Like Miranda, I’ve vowed to try a few new recipes this month. After devouring a full Lindt reindeer in one sitting all the Chrimbo chocolate has now left the premises. I’m trying to eat more seasonally so have been feasting on butternut squash and kale this month (amongst other things, obviously). I like this idea as it takes advantage of what the season has to offer and also means you don’t get stuck in a recipe rut.

Tick off the to-do list

I think my problem last week was I’d set myself far too many tasks to do. I’m torn between taking some time to just ‘be’ and using the long nights to be extra productive. I’ve set myself a more manageable to-do list this week and no longer have a list as long as my arm. It’s all about being realistic. Although it would be lovely to finish off the downstairs loo, and paint the dining room, and the kitchen….

Organise a holiday

It’s cliched but having a good old chinwag about 2015 holiday plans did wonders for my mood. I’m very lucky to have a trip to Seville planned in the spring and fingers crossed James and I will manage a short beach break in the summer.

Catch up with friends

I like a lie-in as much as the next person but I really find it slows me down for the rest of the day. Sunday Breakfast Club is a relatively new thing for me and a must during #dryjanuary. What better way to reward your hangover-free self than devouring a tasty breakfast? My friends and I are trying to get this into the diary at least once a month. It’s cheaper than meeting for lunch, kiddy-friendly, sets you up for the day and is a great opportunity for a gossip.

How are you feeling about January? I think it’s going fairly quickly, don’t you? Have you had the winter blues and how are you lifting yourself out of them?

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41 thoughts on “Winter Blues

  1. So you expected way too much of yourself, had some much-needed rest and then beat yourself up? That’s not being very kind to yourself! Glad you’ve got your mojo back. My birthday is in January, which sucks…

  2. Completely resonating with your feelings on this one Lauren! Agree with you though – we are already mid way through January which is a good thing and I’ve noticed it is getting lighter in the mornings and darker a bit later in the evenings which can only be a good thing. Roll on Spring! 🙂

    1. Hi Emma, I know it’s still kind of light at 4.30pm! Just noticed my daffodil bulbs have sprung up too so spring is definitely on the way 🙂

  3. Hi Lauren – completely agree with you on this one. Was feeling so positive a few weeks ago and then last week it was a real struggle getting out of bed. I do suffer with depression, and I think that, coupled with post-wedding, honeymoon and Christmas excitement, just left me feeling just a litte, well, meh.

    This week has been better however, and can see the light at the end of the January tunnel. I went running on Monday, which lifted my mood tremendously, and completed the Take 10 task on the Headspace app which was good. I am starting with the Park Runs from Saturday and thinking about starting a blog as a way of jotting down feelings/plans/news to help me be a bit more positive.

    Once again, RMS, you have given me an article at the exact right time, thank you. x

    1. Hi Marianne, so pleased to hear your are seeing light at the end of tunnel. Whole heartedly agree with your idea to blog your feelings. It often helps to get things off your chest.

      I must check out the headspace app. Thanks for pointing me in this direction x

  4. I started off really down about January and Christmas being over and then had a big that wiped out a week. Now I’m back to work and working out I am feeling a lot better and also the fact that it is nearly feb! We have been doing dry jan too and it was ok for the first fortnight but now I am craving a nice glass of wine of an evening! Especially with the cosy nights cold outside candles on scenario! However come the 1st of feb I will be able to indulge. My workout plans are going well and have lost inches already just two weeks in so I am feeling motivated even if the scales aren’t budging! And having lots of lovely things to look forward to in feb inc wedding anniversary holidays and husbands birthday is really keeping me positive! And having booked leave for throughout the year too. It def is best to get up and outdoors even when you don’t want to it always perks me up more than staying inside, it’s all balance I guess. I leave for work in the dark and come home in the dark in winter months so it’s pretty sad, I am looking forward to lighter nights again and bright mornings! X

    1. Fab news on the lost inches. Scales always tell fibs! It’s how you (and your clothes feel) that counts.
      Lovely to read about your positivity. It’s really infectious 🙂

  5. My husband and I have a way of dealing with the Jan blues – have a weekend away booked! In previous years we have been to Edinburgh and Berlin, and this year we went to Copenhagen (many thanks for the recommendations RMS!). All quite chilly locations which are cute in the cold! You can usually get cheap flights and hotel deals in January. You do obviously miss out on the cute Christmas markets but you tend to get a bit more of an authentic experience of the place as there aren’t as many tourists. You can usual get a table in restaurants that you want too. We usually do this instead of Christmas gifts so you don’t spend too much more money and it’s brilliant get to the second week of Jan and know you have something to look forward to. Plus I would much rather have a travel experience and some quality time with the hubby than anything else.

    1. Completely agree Bryony… My hubby and I just spent the weekend in the Lake District trough img our way around local pubs, stocking up on Cartmel sticky toffee pudding and seeing some relatives. Just booked the Friday off work and the long weekend, change of scenery and quality time together has really perked up this years January. Even the long drive up was fun blasting out some tunes and having a good matter after a busy few weeks.

    2. Hi Bryony. I’ve just been reading the Copenhagen Readers Request and have been jotting lots of ideas down because I’m currently planning a surprise trip for my bf’s 30th later this year. Are there any other places you would recommend following your trip? Hope you had an amazing time! xxx

      1. Hi Sian – I loved Copenhagen! What a lucky bf you have! The flight is super quick, it a very pretty city with enough going on to keep you entertained but compact enough to be able to find your way about quickly, amazing eats and drinks. We did a couple of free walking tours with the http://www.copenhagenfreewalkingtours.dk/ – we like to do these to get your bearings, a bit of history and a chance to ask a local for recommendations. We did one tour of the Christiana area and one of the main sights. I would recommend buying the Copenhagen cards – they are accepted at all of the tourist attractions and on the transport. We climbed the defence tower to get a bird’s eye view of the city, went on the harbour cruise and went to see the Danish crown jewels with ours. The food market near the station was worth a visit. Friday night we went for a few drinks and a nice meal here http://www.madklubben.dk/en/bistro-de-luxe/ . This is a lovely bar http://mikkeller.dk/mikkeller-friends/ as is this http://taphouse.dk/ (if you like beer especially!) and then dinner at Manfreds was one of the best meals I’ve had, maybe ever! http://manfreds.dk/en/ – amazing! You also can’t leave without indulging in a few pastries – our fave were from here http://www.lagkagehuset.dk/ which is a Danish chain but are so tasty. And you also need to have the other Danish speciality – a hotdog from one of the carts new Magazin du Nord!

        1. Thank you so much! I am now writing all of this down, really appreciate all the ideas and links. I love a good view of the city, good bars and good food so this is perfect. Time to get planning! x

    3. So pleased to hear you had a great time in Copenhagen Bryony, and booking a January trip is a marvellous idea. It’s definitely on the list to do next year.

  6. I started a new job at the beginning of the month and am struggling to do anything in the evening other than cook, get the washing done (got to look good for the new job!) and flake out on the sofa. I’m trying to cram everything else into the weekend which means the state of my house suffers as I choose socialising over cleaning…..

    It’s getting to the point I’m thinking of employing a cleaner!!

    Roll on those lighter, brighter nights!

    1. Congrats on the new job Sarah. Starting a new role is always exhausting. Hopefully you’ll get into the swing of things very soon. x

  7. I can’t complain too much about January blues this year (although being on maternity leave with a 7 month old I’ve definitely struggled with the fresh air aspect, just too many layers…) as on the 31st we’ll be jetting off to New Zealand for a month!! Extreme but definitely stops you feeling down for long 🙂

    On a semi related note, if you want to try new seasonal recipes then you should try this soup, so delicious (my son loves it too)!

    http://www.riverford.co.uk/recipes/view/recipe/cavolo-nero-and-potato-soup-with-red-chi

    1. Oooooh New Zealand! What an awesome time of year to visit. You’ll have an amazing time.
      Will check out the soup recipe. Thanks Martha.

  8. I used my first week of January to finally get round to sanding and painting the dining room chairs. I managed two and that’s as far as I got… the to-do list is overwhelming!

    We’re planning to get stuck back into it all this weekend (after doing the RSPB Big Birdwatch with my nephew), we’ve booked our holiday and once the fireplace is fitted next week it’s finally going to feel like our home. I think a mid-jan lull is normal, but we’re back on track xx

    1. Lots of exciting stuff coming up Karen and you need to send us a pic of your fireplace when it’s in. It’ll be like a completley different room x

      1. It really will! We’ve absolutely transformed the place… just need to get the hallway plastered then we can put the flooring right the way through and downstairs is boxed off!x

        1. Yey! You’ve done that really quickly. Four year later I still can’t tick off the downstairs of our house… x

  9. Weirdly, I’ve quite enjoyed January so far. It definitely helps that I’m not doing dry January! But actually I’ve only had a few glasses of wine and a gin here and there. It’s just nice knowing it’s an option. I’ve thrown myself into marathon training this month which I thought would make January horrific, but it’s actually helped – I love the structure and plan and ticking each day off. Running home instead of getting the tube also helps a lot. I’ve also enjoyed just staying in and recharging, ready for February which I’m sure will involve more dinner and drinks. I’m heading off a sunny holiday in Feb which definitely helps. Sunday Breakfast Club sounds loads of fun, enjoy the rest of the month! 🙂 x

    1. Glad your marathon training is going well Sian. Have a fabulous sunny holiday. I’m not jealous at all 😉 x

      1. Thanks Lauren, we are headed to South Africa and I have booked tokora for a sunset dinner thanks to your post – thank you for the recommendation! X

        1. Oh Sian you are going to have the most amazing time. It really is the most incredible place I have ever been and Tokora was fab. Just don’t do what we did and eat four meals that day (food is excellent all over the wine region) and be too stuffed to eat. I still remember the prawn starter with watercress ice cream. Heaven!

  10. Seconding/thirding everyone’s recommendations to try and do something in January (but not too much. Sounds like you were overdoing it Lauren!) My sister and I went to the Late Turner exhibition at Tate Britain last weekend and it was brilliant. A real emotional boost at this time of year when the light is so low. I’ve also been trying to get out for a walk at weekends, even if it is just round the park. I listen to podcasts and find that the air and sunshine really help my moods.

    I’m another one doing dry January, so there have been a few hard days, but I’m trying to enjoy my tea in the evening and a little bit of good quality chocolate. I’m on a refined carbs free lifestyle (not a diet!), so that and no alcohol, means I’m not giving up sugar too. I’m trying to look after myself as well as eat healthy and not set myself up to fail.

    1. Caroline, liking your outlook there. Perhaps I was destined to fail with such a long to do list!
      You must let us know how your new lifestyle goes.

      1. But at least you got your tiles sorted Lauren! It’s a milestone to look back on positively 🙂

        I’ve been (mostly) refined carbs (i.e. No pasta, potatoes, bread, rice) free for about five months and along with a lot more walking have lost fair amount of weight. More than I want to admit to(!) but it has worked well and I’m never hungry – hence the lifestyle change not diet. Potatoes and bread sadly are just not my friends *sighs*
        Looking forward to being able to have a glass of wine in February!
        (typing this on my phone on the train – please excuse any typos…)

        1. True Caroline. They’re actually on the walls now and grouted too. Progress!
          Pasta and bread aren’t my friend either. I gave up pasta about two years ago but can’t seem to say goodbye to bread. You have far more willpower than me.

  11. It is so hard to motivate yourself in January, I find it tends to be quite a depressing month. I found getting back into a routine during the first week felt horrendous, I became ill with an enflamed stomach which didn’t help. I’m still not 100% but I’m not going to let it get me down. I have been pretty good at going to the gym, which is surprisingly not as busy as usual in January. Without purposely doing it my year is pretty planned out until October in terms of things to look forward to including a burlesque photoshoot, seeing Take That for the third time (I’m still convinced Mark Owen will sweep me off my feet, 12 years after he first entered my life), seeing Jimmy Carr live, visiting family and friends for mini-breaks, and we have just booked a long weekend away in Stockholm in a beautiful looking hotel. Having so much planned, but spread out nicely, is keeping me positive and excited about what the year has to bring!

    1. Sounds like you have a great year planned Claire! I’m also off to see Take That at the O2 in June. Can’t wait 🙂

      1. I’m going to the O2 on 12th June! It’s my 1st wedding anniversary the next day and it looks like I won’t be with the hubby as I am staying with a friend in Faversham while he will be in at home in Derby ooops!

  12. We’re right at that time of the year when it gets really tough and I smiled when I saw your post because this week the topic is all over the medias (I live abroad and even French newspapers had the “Monday blues” all over them). I find the “getting out” bit really difficult to implement, but this is probably due to my personality, “an all out summer girl” as one of my friends defines me. I guess I’ll just make the best of winter because I do love the coziness it brings about and Christmas IS great, but once that date is passed, I just crave for blue skies and warmth. Patience might be the answer… Happy winter to all of you!

    1. It’s true, patience is the answer. January has actually gone very quickly and spring will be here before we know it x

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