Here we are again. January. My least favourite month. Despite a lack of official diagnosis, I am fairly confident that I suffer with Seasonal Affective Disorder. I wrote about this in January 2016. I can find myself overwhelmed at this time of year. Lethargic and feeling worthless. This is definitely time for some well planned self care. A new type of hibernation. But not just about sleep.
Sometimes it is just important to refind your feet. Steady the ship. Plan your next move. This is not a New Years resolution but more of a festive recovery. A return to some of the good that is lost over Christmas. Here is my five point plan to survive January 2017.
This is something I am desperate for at the minute. Little Miss and her emerging new teeth are causing me no end of work in the early hours. With two other monkeys getting plenty of sleep and bursting with energy to deal with there is no restpite. It’s time to be creative and flexible. The answer is simple. Or at least it should be. For January at least I will be going to bed early. No staying up watching TV I could easily watch on catch up or not at all. (Mind you, Tom Hardy has a new dark drama starting on a Saturday night at 9pm on the bbc…oh the pressure to just say “sod it” then wish you hadn’t at 3am when you’re desperate to just get into bed).
So off to bed with me by 9pm to try and claw back the missing hours. Sadly this is not going well so far. I am editing this in the dark, rocking Little Miss, now full of teething remedies, 15 minutes after I final got to bed at 11.30pm. I went later than planned because I needed to finish folding washing and preparing for work tomorrow. Hopefully tomorrow will be better. (It wasn’t).
2) Good food
Not a diet or a detox, just better food. It isn’t about losing weight just feeling less like a bloated, cheese filled muffin with a chocolate on top. In the last few years, especially whilst pregnant (oh the heartburn), I have begun to realise how different foods effect my body and my mind. I love chocolate and I’m weak for sweet things. Christmas is a bad time for me as I am surrounded by the wrong foods. I also find Christmas a huge mishmash of emotional highs and lows. I have always been emotionally attatched to food. An attatchment I now manage, but in the wrong circumstances I am powerless against.
I grew up associating food with emotional comfort. I always allowed a well deserved, food based treat in a crisis or as a reward. As I hit my teens this all took a bad turn and I began compulsive eating. I was trapped in a cycle of eating to feel better but then feeling guilty, fat and disgusting. It has taken most of my adult life to try and unravel my issues with food and I can’t say that I am 100% in control, but things are better. January is always a month that I struggle to get back in charge. So this month I am trying to change that.
The plan again is simple. Nothing drastic, just small steps. Firstly remove temptations (hide the monkeys Christmas chocolate in the wheelie bin. They don’t need it either. Mean I know). Secondly, make a plan and stick to it. It doesn’t have to be for a whole week, just a day in advance will do. Thirdly, include food that makes me feel good both whilst eating and after. Finally, include some treats. A well made Gin and tonic on a Friday night (preferably in the bath (if only)), or a measured out portion of chocolate. Guilt free treats equals control not chaos. But if I do go mad, I try not to feel guilty about it. Draw a line under it and keep trying.
It had to feature somewhere. I am always guilty of abandoning any physical exercise during January. The lack of endorphins only serves to make me feel worse. My biggest problem is the total lack of motivation on my part due to horrible weather and dark mornings/nights. My aim is to overcome this.
Working on the runstreak principle of a minimum of one mile per session, I am hoping I can push myself to just keep moving. Instead of running every day though, the plan is to achieve five out of seven days. Which should be enough flexibility to accommodate my low motivation. Giving it a couple of days to accept how I’m feeling but with sufficient endorphins to keep it from plummeting. In turn the low mood should be kept sufficiently at bay.
4) Switch off the background noise
I talked about this in my post about Decluttering. Sometimes the noisier it is around you the harder it is to focus in on what is important. I am so frequently bombarded with noise and the needs of the monkeys. In order to dissect it all without losing my mind, I now turn off the noise that I have control of. The radio or TV for example.
Christmas is one of those times where finding a moments peace is difficult. Although the festive chaos is fun it can get a bit loud. This January I will be turning off some of my background noise at times before the chaos starts. I want to hear more as well as less. More of what matters and less of the nonsense.
5) Just breathe
I know that any of these things will not make me wake up happy and suddenly embrace January as my new favourite month. It sucks and what I really want to do is actually hibernate. But I can’t. What I can do is try and focus on the simple things to just keep pushing through. So I will be taking the time to breathe every day. To pause and quietly listen to my own breath whenever the opportunity arises. This is to keep ownership of how I feel both good and bad.
I have every right to hate the cold horrible greyness of January. But I am also allowed to remember the things I love in January. My lovely little family. Having lots of time together comes with plenty of stresses however there are moments of loveliness that must be appreciated. Like when Little Miss exhausted herself running around after Top and Middle. She fell asleep right in the middle of the living room floor. The boys then found her a blanket, tucked her up, gave her a kiss and sang her a song. They sat quietly watching TV with her until she woke up.
It has taken me a couple of weeks to write and post this. I have been trying to apply it’s content as I wrote it. Although I am not failing, I am not really succeeding either. This is ok, I’m not looking for perfection. I’m just treading water in anticipation of the warmer months. Making it ok to feel a bit rubbish but not to succumb to it. So sit tight everybody, if January makes you feel like a pair of well worn pants too, I promise it will be over soon.