Is it me or is everything just a little bit January?


I’m writing this on 16 January, 2020, so I guess it goes without saying. But life in January does seem to follow some specific themes. Although there are positives, many of these are quite disheartening.

I think if I asked most people in the UK if this is their favourite time of year, not many would punch the air and say yes.

One or two might punch me instead.

Things that make January a little bit…urgh!

  • Post-Christmas weight-loss recovery
  • Post-Christmas financial problems
  • Post-Christmas clutter
  • Cold, wet, weather conditions
  • People trying to sell you ‘New Beginnings’ stuff
  • Back at work
  • Feeling in a rut

The first three of these all relate to the aftermath of the uncontrollable giant St. Bernard that is Christmas. Christmas is like a school re-union party. We plan for it like crazy, we go through it with a vague disappointment and we come out the other end with a definite feeling of shame, wondering what all the fuss was about. In the process we have often done ourselves some damage.

We’ve put on weight. We’ve overspent. We’ve drunk too much. We now own a large number of things that we didn’t ask for, don’t like, but can’t get rid of for fear of offending someone. We may even have gone and said something we shouldn’t to a friend or relative. All that, and we are going to keep finding pine needles embedded in our socks until next Halloween.

It’s no wonder that the market for health products, diets, finance products and personal development tools explodes this time of year. You can’t help but feel cynical.

Let it go

Ultimately though – it’s just January. It will always be January, just as Christmas is always Christmas. The other 10 months of the year are where all the hard work and getting on with stuff happens.

Cut yourself some slack in January and breathe through it as much as you possibly can. Just tell yourself: ‘It’s just January. It was like this last year, it will be like it next year. January is January.’

Use it to pay a bit of attention and notice what is happening for the first few weeks of the year.

  • Maybe monitor what you eat, without feeling the need to immediately crash diet.
  • Look at your spending and clear out those unnecessary payments, without panicking and deciding you have to take that evening job at the fast food restaurant
  • resolve to tidy one drawer, cupboard or other space every day for just 15 minutes
  • wear that woolly underwear

See the early part of January as a time to take stock and adjust. You could even write it down somewhere and revisit it after a few weeks to see whether it is still important enough to do something about.

I am really beginning to think that the Chinese New Year is the best time to focus on Resolutions, commitments and improving yourself if you like to mark occasions. It’s post Christmas enough to be able to see things in a bit more perspective and you get to have a nice meal while you think about it.

Robert Sanders is a therapist and life coach, supporting people in their present and helping them create their future.