Ahhh, January. The month that seems to haunt so many following the excessiveness of Christmas, the dull wintry skies, and everyone getting back into the swing of things without a party or festive meal to attend every other night. But every day is a new day, so why do we put so much pressure on poor old January?
I think the January Blues are just a concept people go along with. As beautifully explained by Starling Singer George Woolfrey in the HuffPost last year, the 'myth' of this month (and Blue Monday in particular) can also have a damaging effect on the way mental health is perceived and how it's all too easily trivialised in the media and by marketing gurus.
So this new year, I ask you to treat yourself. Continue the good spirit of Christmas time to get you through the long haul of January and into a year of manageable targets and accomplishments.
At Starling Arts, we think a lot about how our mind and body can work together to achieve more with the groups we sing with. Some of our key philosophies make up my resolutions for 2017... and life! Why not try them yourself?
Community is everything
One of our favourite sayings at Starling Arts and one that will never grow old. Find yourself a community to belong to. Whether it’s a choir (like one of ours!), a sports team, a book club, an interest group, whatever; find a way to meet like-minded people on a regular basis and you’ll feel supported, safe and valued. If that can exist at work as well, great - of course we recommend a workplace choir for this(!) - but also ensure you have that community outside of work, full of a mix of people who can offer you anything and everything. From within the Starling Arts family I’ve not only gained awesome friends, but have been able to borrow everything from camera tripods and cake tins, to video extras (see The Period Song) and removal vans, and have been able to offer all sorts of things in return, too.
We often start rehearsals by getting everyone to smile at one another. It instantly connects the group and, even if you don't feel like it, having a room full of people smiling back at you fills your heart up! And smile at yourself! The first thing I do in the morning is smile at myself in the mirror. It’s the best start to my day and I really recommend you try it. Whenever you pass a mirror, smile ... and then pull a funny face! It’s a great way to remember you’re awesome and alive.
Have a boogie
Singing and dancing might be part of my job, but I also like to have a boogie each day that’s just for me. Sometimes it’s the perfect break from work, sometimes it’s a great way to start the day. Unleash your inner child! Find a song that makes you feel awesome and just do what your body wants while you blast it out! I guarantee you’ll feel fantastic. I particularly recommend it if you feel wound up in a stressful task and can’t see a way out; after a pop, lock, jam and break to an uplifting tune, you’ll find your way through that task.
Listen to one of Starling Arts’ playlists on Spotify to get you motivated!
Say Thank You
At the end of each day, think of three good things that have happened and say thank you for them. It might be something as small as, “I ate a Wispa Gold and it tasted epic” or, “My neighbour took a delivery for me”, or it could be something huge like, “I nailed that presentation at work!” or, "My friend got engaged!”
Say ‘thank you’ everywhere and spread a little kindness with it. From thanking the bus driver, to asking your barista how they are when you grab a coffee, being kind to yourself and others makes you feel positive, and strong and that kindness will come back to you in spades!
Hygge might have been the buzzword of 2016, but those Danes know what they’re talking about. Take a time out every day and treat yourself to a cup of tea you relish rather than snatch, a chat with a friend that isn’t just a commuting convenience, a candlelit bath, or a chapter of a book that isn’t interrupted by your phone buzzing or your TV accompanying it, and be at peace with the fact that it’s okay to treat yourself! Don’t feel guilty for taking time for you. Don't feel guilty for leaving the office and coming to choir practice (or any other pastime)! Treating yourself will see you performing better at work and home: mindful, relaxed and restored.
Fill the diary
After a busy December, many of us have a really quiet January and, before we know it, it's the summer and we think, "I've not done much this year!". Book yourselves tickets for an event (I can recommend our upcoming concert Black & Teal...), a holiday, a lunch with friends, games night, walk, museum trip, or all of the above. Once something's in the diary it's harder to wriggle out of it and more likely to make for a great day (and at least one of your three 'Thank Yous' at the end of it!).
Life is better shared. It’s simple.
In treating yourself, you’ll be afforded the energy, mindset and peace of mind to take on any other goals you might set. Don’t start your year with mountainous aims that might trip you up early. Start small, be thankful, and carry on the Christmas spirit as you go. The mountains will plateau into a vista of success, and you’ll be at the top in every sense, and grateful for being there.