Every year I dread the onslaught of shame marketing and advertising in January. After three solid months of being told to treat ourselves, indulge ourselves, have fun, spend money, eat, drink and be merry the tone changes abruptly and all of a sudden we’re supposed to become martyrs to the “new year, new you” persecution. I refuse to take part in this public shaming of whatever fun we might have managed to eke out of the tinsel-wrapped, commercial, pressure-fest that Christmas has become. And I am utterly fed up of stock photos of a measuring tape wrapped around an apple. (What on earth is that about? Checking the apple for love-handles?)
I think during the coldest, darkest and most poverty -stricken month of the year the very last thing any of us should do is give up the things that brink us a bit of joy, struggle into a lycra nightmare and plod off to a fluorescent flooded hell-hole.
For me, January requires a gentle approach. Take a breath, take stock, look around you at what you want to do, what you need to do and what you could do. Maybe take up a new hobby or learn a new skill? Or do a little redecorating at home now the decorations have been banished to the attic/shed/under the stairs again. Or maybe join a new social group? The meitheals Michael Kelly described in his column this week are regular enough in GIY groups around the country and they really do promote a wonderful sense of accomplishment, wellbeing and connectedness. If you are a grower now is the time to plan for the year, order your seeds, tidy the shed and get organised for the growing season.
That’s plenty of activity for January, and if your goal is to eat better, get healthier and save money you can’t do better than growing some food. You can accomplish all three without the indignity of a lycra wedgie, a shouty instructor, fluorescent lights or public humiliation.