So, January really isn’t the best month to start the year off in. It’s cold, wet, sometimes snowy, and every other person is either doing dry January or veganuary. January is also obviously after the Christmas holidays, meaning that most of us are struggling a bit with money. However, as someone with a birthday in January, I have been forced to look past the typical pessimistic perspective on January and see everything good about it. Therefore, in this article, while acknowledging the complete struggle that is the month of January, I will suggest simple tasks to make everything less dreary.
Returning to university after being home with family and friends for the holidays is always difficult; what makes this even more challenging is that most of us won’t have opened a book or our laptops in this time, only making the transition to flats where you can see your breath inside and deadlines that are due in a week that much colder and harsher. As I write this, there is rain beating down on my bedroom window and I am wearing a hat indoors, yet I still find the sound of the rain and the coziness of warm clothes relaxing.
As much as Scotland’s infamous bad weather can be off-putting, it is always inevitable. The rain is what makes Scotland so green, therefore following this improving attitude, we should view a dreary and bleak month more positively and enjoy the rain (in short doses). Why not buy a fun umbrella or go out and stand in the rain while still remaining semi-sane and wearing a waterproof jacket? On the other hand, you could stay in and put on a comfy jumper and listen to the rain while you read or catch up on work. In St Andrews, we are so lucky to have everything so close together, so don’t let the bad weather ruin all of your fun plans – after all I hear that all of the best birthdays are in January.
One of the most difficult things about this time of year is the fact that so many illnesses and cases of flu are going about, causing everyone to drop like flies. Tissues and flu capsules go out of stock in town and there is the constant sound of sniffing in our lectures. Often when we feel ill it is easy to revert into ourselves and feel sorry for ourselves, never wanting leaving our beds. These times are brutal, however looking at them differently can change this tone. If when we are unwell, we stop feeling guilty about falling behind on work or not seeing our friends enough and instead we take the time out to properly look after ourselves then the tight grip pessimism has on us will begin to loosen. Get enough sleep, drink enough water, and relax enough so that once the flu is gone we truly have been reset.
Another positive aspect of January is that it is the start to a completely new year. A lot of the time it is hard to see the significance of this as nothing ever feels very different. Yet, this is an exciting opportunity to have new goals and hopes for ourselves, whether it be academically or personally. Your goal could be to improve your grades, or exercise more, or eat healthier, all are improving ourselves. But just like how it can be in our academics, this motivation can burn out easily. To prevent this we should be patient with ourselves and forgiving, and remember that every day is a new day, every week is a new week.
The second semester of every academic year always feels so much busier but also so much more fun. A refresher. So use January as a way to ease back into university life and enjoy it for what it is.