Written by Rebecca Humphries


Fighting January and winning

Last year, Rebecca Humphries pulled herself out of a funk and she has some tips to help you do the same.

All illustrations by Harriet Carmichael

December 31, 2013. I had a new boyfriend and a new agent. I felt reinvigorated, convinced my personal renaissance and new-found positivity would draw good things to me like a big, sexy goodness magnet. Or something.

By January 1, 2014, my perspective had considerably altered. I was unemployed. I was convinced my agent would drop me, that my boyfriend would see me as a failure. As the month progressed, cold, grey January got so under my skin I became cold and grey myself. I stopped meeting friends for fear they would ask me what I was up to. I didn’t call my mum for a month in case she suspected something was wrong.

As we all know, it’s much easier to do nothing than something and, as a result, five months in to 2014, I was a different person. I could barely leave the house. I took zero pleasure in anything other than picking fights with the boyfriend I’d been so worried would think badly of me.

Depression breezes into your life; its intangibility renders it near impossible to locate, let alone get rid of. When I finally did, 2014 became one of the best years of my life, both professionally and personally.

Cut to December 31, 2014 and a decision I made. I am not going to let January beat me to a pulp again. This year I shall take measures to ensure I begin 2015 as I intend to go on; as myself. So, with that in mind, I thought I’d share what’s making me January-proof. I’m not an expert; I am no life coach. It’s more an ‘I’ve been there and don’t want to ever go there again’ kind of deal. Everything on this list is being tried and tested. It’s going well. So this January I’m:

Making a juice a day
Now, I love a burger as much as the next woman. But, in my experience, depressed + crappy food = more depressed. And more depressed = even more crappy food. It’s a greasy cycle that leads to bad skin, lethargy and low self-esteem. Invest in a juicer, spent a quid a day on carrots, apples, spinach, pineapple – whatever. Your eyes will be brighter, your skin dewy. You’ll be you, but with added Julie Andrews.

Wearing brighter colours
Don’t let January into your wardrobe. Be bold, wear bright colours and clash. Secretly wear a sexy dress under a big coat for no-one but yourself. Wear red lipstick. It’s fierce and, anyway, why the hell not?

Planning trips in advance
If you briefly consider taking in a particular show, seeing an exhibition or taking the train to the seaside – anything that requires advance planning, book it there and then. Book two places and find a friend later. It doesn’t have to be expensive; with theatre, I always book the cheapest tickets possible. It’s the action of going that’s important, though I appreciate not everyone is a skinflint like me. What you’re doing is treating your future self. Whether you eventually like or loathe the event is irrelevant; you will be out of the house having a conversation and formulating an opinion.

Borrowing a dog
Spending as little as 20 minutes around an animal can significantly increase levels of oxytocin, known as the “love hormone” and leave you feeling elated. I don’t know much about science, but I do know since I’ve been hanging out with Murray the Border Terrier from around the corner, I’ve been about 10 times more of a laugh. Borrowmydoggy is an awesome initiative with seemingly no catch. Sign up for a tenner a year and get matched with a local pooch in your area whose owners think they could do with a new friend to keep them company once or twice a week. (www.borrowmydoggy.com)

Making cakes for kids
Another seriously cool site is www.freecakesforkids.org.uk. Families who find it difficult to provide a birthday cake for their child can sign up and find a local volunteer to make the little one something lovely. And if baking joyous cakes isn’t a bloody good thing to do with your time I don’t know what is.

Waking up earlier
Half an hour. Try it. You get to actually listen to the radio, to smell your coffee, to enjoy your hot shower.

Being kind
Say hello to people. Be incredibly nice to the bus driver or barista. Say thank you and mean it. A friend and I once made a commitment to slightly flirt with every stranger we came in to contact with that day, regardless of gender. It was beneficial and hilarious all round.

Going to yoga

Or running. Or zumba. Or cycling. I choose yoga because a) I have the knees of a woman 50 years my senior and b) after spending half of 2014 loathing my own reflection I am now an unabashed narcissist and enjoy looking calmly at myself in a huge mirror for an hour. Whatever, do some exercise. It will start off hard but it’s good for you and you’ll feel amazing when you become skilled at it.

Get thinking
If you don’t like my ideas, think of your own. January-proofing could well be the springboard to a happy year.

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Written by Rebecca Humphries

Rebecca is an actress and writer from Norwich. She likes her portions big and her dogs small. @Beckshumps