I try not to over indulge over Christmas and New Year, but I still manage to eat and drink more than I usually would. Added to the mix is inactivity. Festive TV specials and dramas, playing with the girls’ new toys (with the girls of course), visiting relatives always leaves me feeling sluggish, inert and brain dead. That’s why, when the girls returned to school this week, I decided to go out for a long, brisk walk to blow the cobwebs from my poor bruised, leaden body.
I’m lucky enough not to have to go too far to reach a bit of a quiet spot, a haven. The weather was surprisingly mild for January and I didn’t have to get decked out in my scarf and hat. As I walked past the skeletal trees and gothic piles, I thought how good it was to breathe the fresh air into my lungs and feel my heart pumping. I liked the feeling so much that I picked up the pace; walking faster and faster until I developed a stitch. In a perverse way even this felt good. The pain reminded me that I needed to take care of my body as much as my spirit.
And my spirit was working overtime. Thoughts and ideas were darting in and out of my head like swifts in the summer. I tried to quieten them down, banish them even, because I just wanted to enjoy being outside. I didn’t want to focus on anything at all. I once read a book by Roald Dahl (I can’t remember which one) that said “Don’t think of a red-eyed polar bear.” Of course, all you can think of then is a red-eyed polar bear. And the more I tried to clear my mind of every little idea, random thought and niggle the more I found myself thinking of them. In the end I just succumb to it all in the hope that eventually they would leave me alone. They did and I was free to enjoy the rest of my walk in peace.
When I reached home I felt content and happy, and that got me thinking to how we always see January as the ‘blues month’. The month where we’re skint, run down, and fed up after the excesses of Christmas and by the winter weather. But actually it’s not like that at all. It’s the month where we take a long, hard look at our lives and mentally set ourselves the goals and challenges to change. And even if we never achieve these aspirations, in January we feel that we can. That it will be different this time, and we will see those projects through to fruition. It feels pretty damn good when we do this, and for a fleeting moment we feel contentment. So I propose we rethink our attitude towards dear old January. It should no longer be known as the ‘January Blues’ but as ‘January Optimisim.’