Oh January, you get a bad rap. The weather can be really rubbish, everyone is broke after the excesses of Christmas, and come to think of it, everyone is dieting after the excesses of Christmas too. And let’s not forget about Blue Monday. The third Monday of the month has been labelled the most depressing day of the year.
We’re not actually convinced by the whole Blue Monday thing though. You can feel sad any old time; it’s not dependant on the calendar.
It is really easy to feel a bit down on a wintry afternoon though. If the weather is cold and miserable, and daylight is practically a distant memory, all you want to do is hibernate until Spring comes.
You could just grab your duvet and pretend you’re Bert the Bear (he’s a big fan of hibernation). Or you can say ‘sod that, I’m gonna find something fun to do’. Much as we love our duvets, we usually try for the second option. We think January can be filled with fun and we have a bunch of ideas for how you can cheer yourself up on a miserable winter afternoon.January gets labelled the most depressing month but we think it can be fun. We have 4 easy + crafty ways to cheer up a miserable winter afternoonClick To Tweet
1. Learn to draw
We might be a bit biased since Fi spent most of her childhood (and a fair chunk of her adulthood so far) indoors drawing, but it really is one of the best ways to spend an afternoon.
Being creative gives your mind a rest from the worries and stresses in your life; it’s like a spa-day for your brain. Just focus on drawing or painting soon you’ll find you haven’t thought about boring grown-up crap like work, mortgages, bills and pensions.
It’s also great for problem-solving. Being creative regularly encourages you to think in different ways so you can come up with different ideas and solutions to any problems that are niggling away at you.
Plus, as you get better – and see yourself making progress – you get those warm, fuzzy feelings of pride. Just like when you were little and your mum lovingly put your drawings up on the fridge door for everyone to see.
You can draw or paint in any style you like. You might be drawn to photo-realism, or want to get wild throwing paint around to make some abstract art. You could experiment with a few different ones out to see what fits, just like trying on different trainers to find the comfiest pair.
If, like Fi, drawing animals is your thing, we have a super-easy tutorial to get you started. Check it out here.
2. Join the Big Garden Birdwatch
The world’s biggest wildlife survey is happening from 25-27 January and there’s still time for you to take part.
Every year over half a million people count the birds they see in their garden or local park and the RSPB uses the results to understand how our birdy chums are faring. It helps them spot problems with bird populations, so steps can be taken to try to put things right. You can even add other animals like hedgehogs, frogs and squirrels, to your results to help them see how other beasties are getting on.
The Birdwatch just takes an hour, so make a cup of coffee, get comfy and start noting down which birdies are popping into your garden. It’s a great opportunity to relax with nature for a while, and you can have fun spotting different varieties of birds.
It might even give you some ideas for your drawings – Fi gets a lot of ideas from birds she’s spotted. Sadly she has yet to see a real-life kingfisher, but Hetty the Heron, Betty the Blue Tit and Gloria the Goldfinch all came from real birds she’s met.
You can get all the details and sign-up to take part in the Big Garden Birdwatch at https://www.rspb.org.uk/get-involved/activities/birdwatch/
3. Have a crafternoon for charity
We’ve all been devastated by the news and images of the Australian bushfires recently. Millions of animals have been killed in the fires and it’s thought that countless species are now endangered or possibly even extinct.
But even in the face of such tragedy, there can be a bit of positivity. Crafters all around the world have been working to knit, crochet and sew for animals affected by the bushfires. Things like kangaroo pouches, bat wraps and koala mittens have been donated to Australian rescue centres to help treat orphaned and injured animals.
If you’re feeling inspired by this and want to use your crafty skills for good too, why not have a crafternoon. You can happily while away an afternoon creating something for a good cause. Or if your friends are crafty too, invite them over and have a good natter while you work.
Animal Rescue Collective Craft Guild has patterns/templates you can use and posts updates on what items are needed. At the moment they’ve asked people to pause sending them stuff while they do a stock take but you can keep an eye on their Facebook page to find out when they’re ready for more.
And while you wait, there are plenty of other options to craft for charity:
- British Hedgehog Preservation Society has joined with Prima magazine to ask for knitted hedgehogs to raise money to help save these lovely critters. You’ll find all the details and a pattern here
- Octopus for a Preemie UK is a group of volunteers who crochet octopuses to help premature babies through the first days of their lives. Join their Facebook group to download the pattern and get involved too.
- The Donkey Sanctuary sells knitted, crocheted and felt donkeys to raise money for their campaigns. Find out more and download the patterns
- Contact your favourite charity or local animal shelter to see if they have any crafty campaigns or ways you can get involved.
4. Get creative in the kitchen
This last idea isn’t animal themed – alas, we do not have the baking skills of Kim-Joy – but sometimes the only way to deal with a miserable afternoon is chocolate.
Fi has tried loads of brownie recipes over the years and this one is the outright winner. They’re so quick and easy to make and just need a few store cupboard ingredients for the basic mix.
We usually customise the recipe though to add things like hazelnuts and raisins. We like adding some orange juice and zest to the mix (reduce the butter accordingly) to make chocolate-orange brownies. Adding coffee to make mocha brownies is rather yummy. And Fi’s mum declared the bramble brownies, using fresh blackberries from the garden, her all-time favourite brownie. High praise indeed.
They’re simple to make so great to bake with your kids, then you can all cosy up and enjoy the results. And if you’re still trying to stick to the January diet, they freeze rather well, so you can scoff some now and stash some away to enjoy another day.January blues getting you down? We have 4 easy ways to cheer yourself up on a miserable winter afternoonClick To Tweet