Expert Author Susan Leigh
January and February oftentimes feel rather flat, especially when the weather's cold and miserable. There may be little to look forward to, so it's up to us to become proactive, herald a few changes and inject a little sunshine into our lives.
- Get something in the diary. Finances may be strained after Christmas, but there are still ways to socialise with friends. Arrange a meal and ask everyone to contribute a dish and/or bottle. That way you can enjoy a fun time for relatively little expense. Suggest everyone dresses up to make the evening extra-special.
- Have you heard of a safari supper, where one course is eaten at each person's house and then everyone moves on? Again a fun, inexpensive and unusual way to brighten up the darker evenings.
- Add your name to several mailing lists. There are often free or two-for-the-price-of-one deals going around, especially after Christmas. Or look out for free or inexpensive concerts, exhibitions and events that appeal enough to prompt you and your pals to go.
- Invest in your home. Add some colour, bright prints, warming fabrics, lovely fragrances, so that your home is a pleasurable place to be, whether you're on your own or with friends. Often local markets and craft fairs offer unusual, inexpensive items that can add a special touch to your home. Lighting is especially important during the winter months so introduce lamps, side lights and even candlelight at this time of year.
- Board games and cards can bring a lot of fun to colder, darker evenings and can become an enjoyable part of your winter activities. Find your competitive side and plan a get-together at virtually no cost.
- Don't forget to include opportunities for exercise and fresh air. Weekdays might be difficult to arrange but make the most of the weekends, with outdoor strolls in the park, treasure hunts and nature walks. Follow with a relaxing pub lunch or a warm soak in the bath with a mug of hot chocolate. Or arrange a game of rounders or football with friends and neighbours.
- Make the most of this season's fruits and vegetables and enjoy some healthy, colourful meals. Rediscover the joys of your slow-cooker and leave delicious stews, casseroles and nourishing soups cooking all day.
- Spend an afternoon going through your old photographs, vinyl records and clearing out your clutter. You may even earn yourself a little money by doing so. Physical, mental or emotional clutter can bog us down and interrupt our flow. Be decisive and use the time well.
- Review your aspirations for the coming year. Have they already started to flag? Write them at the front of your diary or notebook and keep your intentions regularly in mind.
- Intermittent rewards and treats are a good way to encourage you out of hibernation mode. Monitor your ongoing goals and give yourself credit for each month's achievements. Celebrate each stepping-stone rather than focus solely on the ultimate goal.
- Be gentle with yourself if your resolutions slip or you don't achieve the same as others. Start again and get back in the zone. Book another driving lesson or training session. Be motivated by others but don't compare yourself and your achievements to theirs. Everyone has very different stories and situations.