15 ways to brighten up your January
Post-holiday blues? From staycations to soup, here are 15 simple steps to banish the January blues at home and at Scouts.
1. Book a holiday
Getting a trip away sorted early in the year always lifts the spirits and gives you something to look forward to. If funds are tight (which can often be the case in January), even 'window shopping' can give you a much needed boost! Get the atlas out, dust off your dreaming hat, and give it a try.
If you could go anywhere this year, where would you go? What would you see? How can you bring that wishful trip closer to reality?
Ahead of YouShape Month in February, January is also an excellent time to start discussing nights away and expeditions with your young people, to gauge the kinds of places they might like to explore.
Top tip: If you really want to make it happen, why not open up a new account to save specifically for that trip, or start collecting spare change in a clearly labelled jar? It all adds up, and having a clear end-goal in mind will make it easier to stay on track.
2. Plan a staycation
If planning a trip away is just too burdensome right now, invite some intrepid spirit into your home instead! Travel via your tastebuds by cooking up a new recipe from a different corner of the world each week. Lose yourself in a novel or documentary set in the country you'd most like to visit next.
Or, if you're feeling brave, set up camp in your back garden and spend a night beneath the stars, imagining that you're on an Arctic expedition! With a little creativity and an open mind, you can travel the world without leaving the house.
3. Get back in touch
If you're prone to flakiness, make 2018 the year you stop fruitlessly vowing to see people, and get something solid in the calendar. If you haven’t heard from someone in a while, a really nice thing to do is to purposely reconnect with them. Whether they’re a relative or friend, a quick phone call or coffee date will put you both in a good mood, and could even kickstart a whole year of stronger friendships.
Top tip: In the Scout meeting place, you can apply this logic by inviting ex-members of the Group to come back and chat to your current Group. What are they doing now? How did Scouting help them get there? What advice would they like to pass on to their younger Scouting selves? This check-in can really inspire team morale, and will help you to encourage retention between the sections.
4. Delegate time to get on top of things
Set aside one hour. Call up and book all of those pressing appointments you've been putting off. Pay a bill early. Check in with your emotions and troubleshoot whatever is bothering you. Altenratively, use the whole hour to completely switch off. Have a bath. Read a book. Meditate. Do whatever it is you need to do in order to recharge and reset, and do it in a designated slot of time. This will help you to be a more active participant in your life, and encourage you to break out of autopilot, even if only for a short while.
5. Reconnect with resolutions
Coming towards the end of January, some people might struggle with sticking to their resolutions. If you’re one of them, it’s a great time to hit restart, and make a big push for at least the next 10 days. Breaking your goals down into manageable 'slots' of time will make them feel more manageable and achieveable, allowing new habits to stick.
Top tip: Hold yourself accountable by marking off each day you stick to your goal on a calendar, and remember to reward yourself at each milestone to keep the momentum up. Too often, we focus on the next goal and fail to acknowledge how far we've come. If you've managed to stick to your resolutions, or if you've simply had the courage to fall down and get back up again, remember to give yourself a pat on the back when it's due.
6. Wrap up
Whether you got some cosy clothes for Christmas, or have picked up some new threads in the sales, make sure you keep using them! Staying wrapped up warm when you’re out and about is very important for dodging colds and chills, and will ease you back into the chilly mornings and dark evenings. Which brings us nicely to number seven…
7. Indulge in a duvet day
As much as we all like to cram as much adventure as possible into our weekends, sometimes it’s nice to have a completely free calendar. With the bad weather raging on, a duvet day could be just what you need to recharge.
Stick on some Netflix and stay in your PJs all day! Start a new novel and refuse to re-emerge until you've finished! Listen to the rain on the window pane! Remind yourself and your young people that there is absolutely nothing shameful about doing absolutely nothing once in a while, especially if they are preparing for a stressful year of exams.
8. Create something
If you made a New Year’s resolution to be more creative and have stalled for a bit, then focus on doing one creative thing a day. Whether it’s drawing, writing, painting or making music, do one little bit. You don't need to invest in loads of new equipment, or even invest a tonne of time. Being creative can be as simple as carrying a notebook with you as you commute, sketching or writing about what you see and hear.
9. Shine a light into darkness
It's no wonder that the darker days can cause people to feel a little down in the dumps, with the skies casting bleak shadows and the cold frost ceasing to thaw. In some cases, the winter blues can even escalate into a condition known as Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD).
But, the good news is that symptoms can be improved with a little self help. Research shows an easy way to push through is to invest in a light box and soak up some rays at home. These are widely available online, or you can try your hand at making your own.
Top tip: Now is also a prime time to remind your young people about the importance of staying safe and being seen after dark.
10. Create your own luck
You know how the saying goes: if you’re not in it, you can’t win it. If you’re feeling low on luck, it’s always nice to increase your chances by indulging in a bit of good old fashioned daydreaming! See a penny? Pick it up! Stuck inside? Invite friends over for a game of cards! Tempted by the lottery? Buy a ticket this time.
11. Start a gratitude journal
Challenge yourself and your young people to keep track of the little things in life this month, and you'll all soon see a drastic increase in your good moods. You can start by simply writing down one thing a day that made you smile, no matter how significant or how small.
12. Work from home where possible
If you’ve got a job that’s pretty flexible and allows you to work remotely occasionally, it would be great if you managed to do it even once a week this month. Doing so means there’s no freezing cold commute to grin and bear, and less risk of getting sick!
13. Recharge using scents
As an aromatheraphy convert will attest, scents can play a huge role in setting our moods and enhancing our concentration. If you can afford to, invest in a couple of bottles of essential oil and carry them around in your bag. Alternatively, you could make your own budget candles with your young people, using just an orange, a match, and a dash of vegetable oil.
14. Nourish your body with comfort foods
Brew up some hearty soups and stews. Drink steaming hot tea. Sip some hot honey and lemon. Eat your greens. This is the month to warm up, inside and out. And, in this miserable weather, the last thing you need is another depressing desktop salad.