WELLBEING | Do Something New To Chase Away Those January Blues!

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January can be a tough month to get through. With all the excitement of Christmas gone it’s back to work and back to our usual routine for most of us and the dark of winter can feel oppressive.

mind cards
New years' resolutions for a happy active 2020

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Whilst there’s a glimmer of hope with the days gradually getting longer and the first early glimpses of spring emerging from the ground, getting through January can feel like a bit of a slog so why not use this time to plan some new activities for the coming year?

Blue Monday or Not, January Sucks

Did you know that the third Monday in January (which this year falls on the 20th January) has long been dubbed ‘Blue Monday’? It’s generally regarded as being the most depressing day of the entire year.

Whilst firm scientific evidence to back this claim up is somewhat lacking, I know that personally, January tends to be the toughest month of the year to get through as the dark days, unrelenting cold and distinct lack of both outdoor time and sunlight, combine to totally sap my energy.

So instead of letting January drain you of your life force and instead of making unrealistic resolutions you won’t keep that you’ll only feel bad about, do something on a smaller scale that’s attainable and will improve your wellbeing!

1. Learn something new about the natural world

Perhaps you’ve always wanted to be able to identify the birds that visit your garden, the trees you walk past on your way to work or the constellations in the night sky?

Wildlife identification books
Get involved with the RSPB Big Birdwatch

Whilst learning the names of an entire genus isn’t a fast process, it’s making a start that matters and a greater connection to the natural world is good for you. So whatever it is, make a pledge to yourself that this year you’ll stop putting it off and take steps to learn something new about nature.

Why not get involved with something like the RSPB Big Birdwatch?

2. Plan a microadventure

Keep a weekend in your schedule free and isntead of planning the hell out of every spare moment you have, leave a weekend to chance. Go with the flow and do whatever you feel like at the time.

Going kayaking
Pack your car and take off on a microadventure!

Book something last minute or pile the car with walking or camping gear and go on a random road trip; whatever it is don’t worry too much about the details. Get the basics planned and make it happen!

At this time of year we’d recommend glamping rather than camping (unless you’re totes hardcore…which we aren’t) so you’ll find heaps of glamping inspiration here.

3. Spend a night sleeping under the stars

You don’t have to literally sleep under the stars (hypothermia is a bummer), so tent camping will do and we’d recommend waiting until Spring too. Build a campfire with the kids, star gaze with friends or simply snuggle up outdoors with a loved one.

Spend a night sleeping under the stars!

Camping is good for you. The enhanced connection to nature and partially re-wilding your life for even just a couple of days could leave you feeling calmer and even sleeping better, not to mention it’s fun!

If you’re a reluctant camper, read our camping tips for people who hate camping.

4. Make a pledge to cut down your use of single use plastic

From the blight of microbeads to the gut-wrenching sight of turtles nesting on filthy plastic strewn beaches, plastic waste is finally, big news. The governments pledge to eliminate plastic waste by 2042 is at best, lame, so it’s up to us as consumers to do what we can.

We’ve all got used to bringing our own shopping bags with us, but how about making more informed decisions when shopping and actively making choices that see us buying fewer products wrapped in or made from plastic.

Small changes are easy too. Buy fresh food loose, and don’t choose versions that are packaged with unnecessary plastic. Look for alternative materials whenever you can. Cut down your expensive Cappuccino habit or take a refillable flask to the gym instead of bottled water…

Even if you can only manage to cut your use by 5%, it’s a great step.

Always fancied trying a new activity? Get out there and give it a go!

5. Find your focus and meditate

Meditation is simple, but it’s not easy. The good news is the more you do it the easier it is and myriad benefits come with it. Mindfulness isn’t just a hip term overused by the media, it’s actually a hugely beneficial skill that will make you more content and will help you enjoy a more meaningful life.

With such incredible benefits, now’s the time to stop making excuses and take the first steps to living more mindfully. Learning to focus your mind through meditation is the ideal way to get started and could mean that you end the year a far happier and more centred person.

You can find out more about forest bathing or read about walking meditation here, alternatively, check out all of our features about wellbeing here.

6. Become an actual Womble

Get involved with a local community group or take part with a cleanup effort taking place in an area that you like to go walking in. Even if you just do it once, an hour combing your local streets, park or woodland for rubbish is a highly rewarding thing to do.

Check out The Outdoor Bloggers Clean Up, or organise your own litter pick.

7. Learn a nature based skill

Perhaps you’ve always fancied willow basked weaving, or having the ability to identify safe food you can forage? Perhaps you want to hone your natural navigation skills or learn an aspect of bushcraft?

Give bushcraft a try
Why not learn some bushcrafting skills?

There are countless ways to learn skills like this, from the humble book to wilderness and countless bushcrafting retreats, so what are you waiting for!

8. Be daring and go for it!

If you stop and think for a couple of minutes, I bet there’s something you can think of that you’ve always wanted to try but have never got around to doing. Stop putting it off and pledge to make this the year that you finally make it happen!

Go Ape Delamere Forest Cheshire Tree Top Adventure Zip Wire
Always fancied zooming down a zipwire or walking through tree tops? Go for it!

Whether that’s flying down a zip wire or white water rafting, basket weaving or yarn spinning, if it’s something you’ve always fancied doing throw caution to the wind and just go for it!

9. Get your walking boots on

Take on a realistic challenge. I’ve never liked the idea of making New Year’s Resolutions, I mean, If you want to change something then why would you wait? Also, they seem to end up making people feel lousy as they try to do far too much at the same time and invariably end up ‘failing’.

Walk 1000 miles

A more realistic challenge that’s good for your mental and physical health is making an attempt to walk more and Country Walking magazine run an annual challenge, encouraging people to log as many miles as they can in a year.

If you’re desk bound like I am for most of the time and work far enough away to make a car or public transport and necessity, then walking 1000 miles is no mean feat!

For this reason you might want to include your daily step count, as well as weekend ‘boots on’ walks, or if you’re more active, you might want to count only ‘boots on’ walks, or even challenge yourself to double the distance and walk 2000 miles!

That’s the beauty of this challenge, whether it’s 500 miles made up mainly of your day to day steps or 2000 miles of hardcore hiking, you can find your own pace and set your own, achievable goals, so there’s no feeling of failure at the end of it – so here’s to not feeling rubbish! Yay!

You can find out more about the Country Walking Walk 1000 Miles Challenge here.

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