With Christmas now behind us and the gloomy season fast approaching, it is common at this time to notice yourself feeling a bit down. January can be a particularly difficult month of the year to stay positive in. The absence of sunlight and the bitter cold can be especially challenging. But, it is possible to reframe this – January, for all its gloom and doom, is actually one of the best months for reading. The harsh weather outside makes the idea of staying indoors, curled up on the sofa with a good book even more attractive. Since Christmas has just gone by, hopefully you will have some new, shiny books to read too. If not, I have created a list of reads to seek out during this season if you want to beat those infamous January blues.
What better way is there to start off the year than to prioritise your mental wellbeing? The Good Sleep Guide by Sammy Margo can help you to get a better night’s sleep which in turn alleviates stress and anxiety, and better equips you for any challenges the year or your university course will bring. Interior design and feng shui can also help to improve your mental wellbeing – Joyful by Ingrid Fetell Lee is a book I highly recommend for great advice on how to make small changes to your surroundings for overall happiness. Lee suggests trading in dark, winter colours for bright ones, as well as adding plants to your living space for a better quality of air. These changes will subtly influence your mood and bring some much-needed balance. The Little Book of Hygge by Meik Wiking focuses on creating an atmosphere of relaxation and cosiness, which can make your student room feel less like a rented apartment and more like a home away from home.
January is a time of fresh starts and New Year’s resolutions, some of which focus on eating healthier
The practise of mindfulness is also essential for nurturing your mind and beating the January blues. Books I would recommend for this are 10% Happier by Dan Harris and The Headspace Guide to Meditation and Mindfulness by Andy Puddicombe. Both are additionally available in either podcast or app form to supplement your learning and give an excellent beginner’s guide to meditation – a daily practise that will bring manifold improvements to your wellbeing throughout the new year.
Importantly, January is a time of fresh starts and New Year’s resolutions, some of which focus on eating healthier. Clean eating advice books and cooking books are particularly helpful for achieving these goals and making dinner time a less stressful experience overall. If you are interested in the science of eating, Eat, Drink, and Be Healthy by Dr Walter Willet is an excellent book for debunking harmful myths about certain food groups and encouraging a well-balanced diet, which will set you up nicely for the year ahead. If you want to discover (or rediscover) a love for cooking, Wagamama’s Feed Your Soul: 100 Japanese-Inspired Bowls of Goodness cookbook is brilliant.
With a good book (or a few) by your side, you should be able to keep the January blues at bay
Based on recipes from the restaurant we all know and love, this book is guaranteed to push you out of your frozen pizza comfort zone and make you try new things along the way. For the students among us who want to simplify or shake up their cooking habits, I would highly recommend Cooking on a Bootstrap, The Hungry Student Cookbook, and Student Eats: Fast, Cheap and Healthy. These books can offer you affordable meals on a student-friendly budget to help you take charge of your finances for the rest of the academic year and feel more in control.
In terms of entertaining fiction, 2019 has been an exceptional year. If you have not already lost yourself in a gripping narrative, these books are sure to do the trick. Margaret Atwood’s hotly anticipated The Testaments immerses you into the world of Gilead by telling the stories of three women trapped within its dystopian walls, certain to chill you to the bone. André Aciman’s beautiful novel Find Me follows Call Me by Your Name’s Elio and Oliver as they navigate lingering passions, their sexuality and middle age. Voted one of the best novels of the year, this is not one to miss.
Overall, despite its terrible weather, this does not have to be such a terrible month. With a good book (or a few) by your side, you should be able to keep the January blues at bay!