Everywhere I look at the moment it seems there’s relief at seeing the back of January. For us, weirdly, January wasn’t too bad. In fact, I always find February a trickier month. The weather is often dismal, spring still feels so far away, and the initial burst of enthusiasm over new year’s goals has disappeared into the distance. However, I reckon if I stick on the right track then February could go the same way as January and not end as a total write-off. Here’s how to be happy in February, according to the rules of my January survival experience:
1. Give yourself things to look forward to
The reason everyone hates Mondays is because the weekend still feels so far away. And why do we love the weekend? Because we treat ourselves, do fun things and relax the rigorous routines. The same is true of January. The summer is months in the future and without little things and experiences to look forward to, life is dull.
Last month, we had a great weekend away in Bristol, which was the perfect antidote to the January blues. For February, the NLM and I have a child-free night away planned, which we’re both really looking forward to. This week we also booked our flights to Paris for a weekend away just the two of us in April (I owe my parents serious favours for all the childcare help!), and I’m currently knee deep in summer holiday planning too.
You might say this is a distraction from the everyday grind of life, but I think having things to look forward to is a much-needed pick-me-up and solution to feeling frazzled, especially when the weather’s awful. It doesn’t have to be a weekend away, though. It could be something as simple as a special Friday night meal, or a session of binge watching on Netflix. These little things buoy us along and are vital in the search for how to be happy.
2. Stay organised
Having kids has forced me to relax my inner Monica to a certain extent, but I always know I’m heading for a mini meltdown if I start to feel overwhelmed by my To Do list. For me, there’s nothing worse than having a huge list of work deadlines and no time to do them. I feel panicked and anxious, snappy with the kids and am probably not the most fun person to be around. Staying organised is the key to happiness. This month I was sent a beautiful organiser from Pen Heaven and it’s proven really helpful in keeping track of my many deadlines, kids’ school and club commitments and family weekend plans. Ultimately, this makes me feel more in control and less like I’m hurtling toward some kind of life crisis.
3. Pamper pamper pamper
There’s nothing more indulgent than a long soak in a hot bath and then taking the time to massage in a load of fancy creams afterwards, is there? There have been a couple of evenings in the last few weeks where I’ve gone to town with the pampering and done the whole shebang – face mask, hair mask, detoxing bath salts, candles – the works.
I was sent a sample of the newly repackaged Nathalie Bond Organics skin balm which is just the thing to put on after a long soak. Made with rose geranium, patchouli and calendula it smells good enough to eat and glides over your skin in meltingly smooth fashion. I’ve used it on my face, after my regular moisturiser, as a night cream, smothered it all over my dry lips and even rubbed it into dry spots on my knees and ankles (all the glamour).
I have a real love-hate relationship with exercise. As a kid and teenager I did loads of dance and swimming, but then I grew up and discovered wine and the joy of hangover junk food. I’ve always dabbled in yoga and gone through phases of shifting my backside on some sort of exercise fad (there was a Zumba phase, an aqua-aerobics phase and even a boot camp phase), but nothing – except for yoga – has really stuck.
Recently, though, I’ve had a bit more time to myself as Baby Girl started pre-school a couple of mornings a week. So I’ve taken up running two mornings a week, before getting home to do some work. And I’ve found a trampoline interval training class at a local trampoline park which is horrendous and strangely satisfying in equal measure. I think the fact I’m starting to see results is helping to spur me on and actually begin to enjoy the exercise (I’ve lost 7lbs this month and my jeans no longer feel like they’re cutting off the blood circulation in my waist). So I’m keen to continue with it and keep going through to the summer. (Please remind me of this if I start flagging over the next month.)
Other vital ingredients in the search for how to be happy include: giving yourself a break (early nights to bed, read a book, carve out time to slob out on the sofa and watch your favourite box set etc), making the most in a break in bad weather and getting outdoors – even if it’s only a local walk – and, most importantly, CLEAN SHEETS! I can not stress enough the simple “Aaaaaah” moment I feel when I slide between my fresh sheets every Sunday evening. It makes saying goodbye to the weekend that bit easier.
What things helped you get through January?