Suffering from the January blues anyone? You might benefit from trying a cheap and cheerful feel-good remedy from my little list of ten. Imbibe copious cups of tea before, during and after and you’ll soon be feeling swell again. Chink chink!
1 Create something
Perhaps an obvious place to start, but to my humble mind there’s no surer way to feel satisfied than to create something all by yourself. And most of the time, it can be done for very little money. If you’re into knitting or sewing, you could clear out your wool or fabric stash and transform what you find into a patchwork cushion cover or even a small quilt. Alternatively, if you like drawing or painting, you could create some new artwork for some tired-looking walls. And if you’re feeling ultra adventurous, you could try making soap a la the lovely Rachel. I’m desperate to try this out now – what delightful gifts those bars would make wrapped in cellophane and tied with ribbon!
2 Get lost in fiction
My sister inspired this idea: she currently has two weeks’ holiday from uni and has decided to spend her time off doing nothing other than reading. Now she’s by far and away the most hardcore bookworm I know, and she’s also a student with a fortnight to spare. But the principle applies nonetheless: losing yourself in a good book is a wondrous experience, and one of the best (and cheapest) ways to pass the time when not much else is happening. And if you find anything good on your literary travels, let me know – I’m already on a mission to read Three Cups of Tea by Greg Mortenson after Kat mentioned it the other day. Anything else I should add to my list?
3 Bake a cake or try a new recipe
Lethargy in the kitchen is never a good thing. It’s so easy to fall into a cycle of perpetually rustling up the same dishes week in and week out. Inject a modicum of spice (perhaps even literally) into your culinary activities by trying something new. It doesn’t have to break the bank and it might just end up becoming a staple.
4 Have a furniture swap
At one stage in my youth I swear I was “changing my room around” at least once a week, irritating my parents profusely by crashing my wardrobe from one end of the room to the other and then back again once I had realised it looked better in the first position. Once a week is, perhaps, excessive but swapping some furniture around can make a tangible difference to the way you feel about a room. And apart from a couple of hours and a few beads of your own sweat, it’s completely gratis. If you’re feeling flush (which I know most of us are not right now), you could sniff out some new-to-you curtains or a couple of lampshades from your favourite charity shop. Oftentimes the smallest alterations make the biggest transformations – one of life’s beautiful little truths.
5 Get inspired
Whenever I feel low on inspiration or ideas, the first thing I do is go to the library. I’ll loan a whole stack of books on a whole range of different subjects, bring them all home and spend a few hours greedily racing through them, making notes of things I want to research or any ideas I have. While the same thing could easily be done online, I find that there’s a particular pleasure to be derived from holding a spine-and-pages real book in your hands. Plus, it’s always good to support your public services (and bloody hell do they need us right now). Carly wrote a great post about drumming up crafting inspiration from the library the other day – find it here.
6 Sort out some paperwork
I spent an hour last week sifting through mail, receipts, concert and cinema tickets and general bits and pieces of rubbishy paper that I’ve accumulated over the past few months. I scrap-booked a bunch of it, recycled lots and filed away only the real essentials. Paper clutter is one of the most irritating types out there, but the ray of sunshine is that getting rid of it is a massively therapeutic process. Go try! Now!
7 Write some letters
Remember I said I was going to get better at sending snail mail? Well, it hasn’t quite happened yet. But there’s nothing wrong with keeping the flame of intent a-burning, is there? Let’s face it, it’s January. Lots of people are skint and depressed and looking for a reason to smile. One little letter or well thought-out card could create an enormous amount of joy right now – really, there’s no better time for it.
8 Plant some seeds
China teacups or recycled jam jars make the most charming of receptacles: envisage your excitement at seeing them flourish come Spring and you’ll be diving face first into the compost without a moment’s hesitation.
9 Get some dates in your diary
January is a great time to make cheap plans with others. I’ve made a conscious effort over the past couple of weeks to e-mail and text all those people I’ve been meaning to get in touch with for a while, and to get some plans made. As a result, my diary is filling up with all sorts of fun weekends, days out and meet-ups for the next couple of months. Just the remedy for bashing those ‘start of year’ blues into submission.
10 Revisit your musical youth
Question: is there anything quite like Spotify? It’s free, it holds almost all of the music I would ever want to listen to (no old school Eagles and no Arcade Fire means it doesn’t quite get full marks) and you can make your own flippin’ playlists on it! Brilliant rainy afternoon, oh-my-God-I’m-back-in-1993 fodder right there.
What are your own cheap and cheerful blues-busting solutions? Feel free to add to the list!
Image above from Flickr – highteaforalice.