So, as 2016 gets into full swing, festive lights and decorations have been put away. The fridge, which had once been overflowing with all sorts of wonderful treats, is now filled with everything that only a rabbit could be excited for. Daily routines return to normal, and the so-called ‘January blues’ begin to take hold. Whether it’s embarking upon an insanely strict diet plan to shed those festive pounds, or the need to tighten the purse strings so much that even the nimblest of fingers couldn’t get in, chances are you will be feeling a little miserable.
That’s why I thought that I would share a few ideas which can really help make a dreary January that little more enjoyable. They are all either very inexpensive, or completely free so, no matter what your position, you will find something here to suit you.
1. Start Well
Everyone knows the good old saying, ‘start as you mean to go on,’ but how many of us actually apply that to the simple, and sometimes mundane, routine of daily living? Well, here’s one really simple and fun way that you can! Breakfast Smoothies!! It almost seems too simple to merit a mention, but we often forget how easy and fun they can be! (not to mention the incredible boost it can give us, both physically and mentally)
|Try using fruits and veg that are in season
to get the best benefits from your smoothie!
You can be as creative as you like with ingredients. Spend as much, or as little money as you like, or get friends to bring round any fruit or veg that they have which needs used up. Try and incorporate some ‘super foods’, such as greek yoghurt, blueberries and oatmeal. Or, if you’re feeling extra adventurous, you could add kale or broccoli. These will help boost your mood and energy levels, making you feel less sluggish and low.
If you’re looking for a fun activity for the kids, or something to do with friends as a healthy, budget-friendly alternative to the usual weekend drinks, this is a great choice!
2. Cake Pops
Yes, you read that right, it says ‘cake’! Contrary to popular belief, however, you do not need to completely avoid treats in order to be healthy. These cake pops are small enough to incorporate into any healthy lifestyle, as a little bit of something tasty, but are also very simple, and fun, to create. Make a batch with friends as a great weekend activity, and enjoy one or two each with a cup of tea, as an alternative to the usual bowls of crisps, chocolate and glasses of wine.
You can use any plain sponge cake recipe for these, such as your favourite cupcake recipe. You can also use a vegan cake recipe, or one that uses coconut flour and palm sugar. They work just as well, and may also be slightly healthier. You’ll also need a cake pop machine or silicone mould (available from most good supermarkets).
|These ones were made in a cake pop machine,
with a plain sponge recipe, and decorated with
Dr Oetker goodies.
However, if you don’t have the equipment or ingredients to hand, and want to keep the costs low, there is another, very simple method!!
All you need is a plain madeira cake, either shop bought or homemade, but make sure you cut off any ‘crusts’ or crispy edges first (You can also use a chocolate one if you prefer). You’ll also need a tub of vanilla buttercream (such as Sainsbury’s own), some wooden skewers and some melted chocolate, and other decorations of your choice (optional).
Simply crumble the cake into a large bowl, by hand, until it’s a fine crumb. Then gradually add a spoonful of buttercream at a time, mixing after each addition. The mixture should be firm, and not gooey (too much buttercream will do that). Then you simply chill for 30 mins, after which time you can begin to mould the mixture (by hand) into individual cake pops. Let them chill for another 30 mins, and then you are ready to put them together!!
You will want to dip each skewer in some melted chocolate, before pushing them into the cake pops, and letting them set. This will help to hold them in place. You can then have as much fun as you like with the decoration, maybe even use up some of those left over chocolates and sweets that are still hanging around after the holidays. Then, it’s time for the best part, sit down and enjoy!!!
3. Explore the Outdoors
It may still be cold and wintery outside, but don’t let that put you off! Winter is one of the best times of the year to enjoy walks and general outdoor rambles. The scenery can be amazing and, a picture taken at the right time, can show it in all its glory.
|The right lighting over anything can make for an interesting picture.
Add a frame or filter and really set off your photos.
The fresh air and exercise will do you the world of good, not just physically, but it can really help lift your mood and improve the symptoms of S.A.D. (seasonal affective disorder). Try getting a few family members, or friends, together and take a trip to the nearby forest, beach or country park. There’s a whole different world to explore at this time of year, and a whole new level of beauty to discover….it can make for a great hobby, and it’s all free! So take a camera out with you and start snapping!!
|Llama trekking is also a great low cost outdoor
activity, averaging around £8pp
4. Plan Plan Plan
There are two reasons why planning is important. Firstly, get yourself a diary or weekly planner. Sitting down, every so often, and organising things like monthly income, paying bills, deadlines/goals for work or uni (and how you will work towards meeting them), diet/exercise plans, social events, and work schedules can all help ensure that you come back to earth with much less of a bump after the holidays. You will know exactly how much money you have to work with each week, and even planning out your meals for each week will help ensure that you remain within your budget when you go grocery shopping.
Having everything written down will help put your mind at rest, putting you back in control of your life after splashing out.
Secondly, many people suffer from ‘January blues’ because it can seem like a very empty month. December means parties, work events, family gatherings and general buzz and excitement. Once January hits, suddenly everyone wants to ‘be good’ – both financially and in terms of their diet, and so social events can dwindle. Therefore, planning something with friends or family can help give you something new to look forward to, even if it’s an exciting event, or trip for later on in the year. For smaller scale activities though, try a little pamper evening with friends, meet up with some others in the park and walk your dogs together, or simply invite a few people over for a cup of tea (maybe even experiment with some loose leaf teas and try blending your own flavours) and watch your favourite show, or choose a Netflix series to work through.
Planning is free, and it’s amazing how much it can help, but don’t forget that not EVERYTHING needs planned. Allow yourself to be spontaneous sometimes. Knowing exactly how much ‘spending money’ you have each week, and having followed your plan for completing any pieces of work etc, you won’t need to worry about overspending, or neglecting other tasks. Just be free and enjoy!
So I hope this has given you a few ideas to brighten your January! Let this be the year that you try something new. There are many more options than those i have mentioned above, so let me know in the comments what you will be trying out!