January: The month of ruined resolutions and financial instability

Wondering why you’re feeling so down? Fed up of the people around you being miserable? Want to know why? It’s January! Of course everyone is miserable. Of course people feel downhearted and melancholy, and even irritant. Another year has come and gone and what has anyone done with their lives? I don’t mean to make you feel worse but, despite a lot of individuals worshipping the “beautiful” January weather and revelling in the optimistic and fresh vibe associated with the beginning of the year, I think there are just as many of us who feel like crap.

I’m incredibly jealous of all the people who are tirelessly working out, loosing weight, pursuing lost hobbies, quitting jobs they hate, and planning holidays this time of year. “Pro-active, productive angels” I like to call them. For the rest of us, it’s going to be a long, slow month of comfort eating, cutbacks, debts, back-to-work stress and, above all, that annoying pressure to self-improve and ultimately make this year better than the last, and every year before that. This doesn’t make sense, I know. Why does a certain time of the year determine when you should change or act, and why do we all procrastinate another year when we fail our resolutions so quickly?

Predominantly, all of this misery and sorrow boils down to one thing. Money makes the world go round and, after Christmas, January doesn’t even have enough coins to count. Christmas is the most wonderful time of the year, especially for kids, but, although it’s great fun at the time; buying gifts, eating out, drinking and being merry, it doesn’t come free. Unfortunately, we live in a materialistic society that is getting more intense each year. More people are opting to spend a fortune on presents and eating their Christmas dinner at a restaurant than spending quality time with their family at home. Shops have no hesitation advertising their “deals” way before autumn even begins, brainwashing customers into emptying their wallets for plastic toys and the same old traditional socks and jumpers that we already have enough of.

Food is obviously a big seller as well, with turkey, sprouts, pigs in blankets and some confectionery not even being sold throughout the rest of the year, making it harder for us to say no. Weight starts being gained from Halloween all the way through to the New Year making our January diet as hard as it could be. I for one, almost always have Christmas chocolate left over in January anyway so who’s idea was it to start a diet in this month? What are we going to do, chuck out the pounds of unhealthy food? Pfft, obviously not, especially when most of us don’t even have enough money to buy organic, healthy meals, or have money for a gym membership, a personal trainer, or weight watchers. Physically, our bodies are not in a great state at the start of the new year. I know quite a few people who also try to give up the alcohol for a while after Christmas to give their body a break and I have no idea how they do it. Not that any of us have the money to go drinking.

Financial difficulties have such a big impact that it effects people personally and emotionally as well. For many people, Christmas is a great time; meeting family, relaxing, and, for the majority, time of work or school. For these people, it’s hard to return to the gruelling reality of life, saying goodbye to family that you may not see again for a long time, and resuming your journey exactly how you left it, just with less money and maybe a few flashy gifts. Kids in school are no way in exempt from this. When I was studying, I found that going back to school in January was worst that going back after the summer, and a lot of students nowadays also complete tests, coursework, exams or mock exams sometimes within the first week of January, so that probably ruins Christmas and the start of the year for them. For the rest of us, it’s work we have to go back to and, to be frank, we probably hate it, and hate it even more after the holidays, but don’t have the courage to quit.

For those who are forced to work over Christmas it probably wasn’t the best time, but then everything slows down in January. This can be good or bad. Obviously, it’s great if you want to work less and relax more but employees working in retail and hospitality are more likely to receive less hours, making it harder to pay back debts and build up savings after the financial ruin that is Christmas. Additionally, I personally find that less hours also means less co-workers at work when I’m on shift so it’s quieter, more boring, there’s less people to talk to and ways to entertain ourselves and, when it gets busy without warning, higher work load and less support. Working in these industries also means that there will be less customers as they don’t have the money to eat out or go shopping, which adds to the dullness of a January shift. Then there’s the customers who do come out, despite empty pockets, and take out their frustrations on the staff. The amount of food and drink complaints increase dramatically at the beginning of a new year as customers dig desperately for any means of refunds or discounts. For the record, if you don’t have the money to eat out, do what every else does in January and stay home. Working in these jobs is the worst of both worlds, as the hours increase at Christmas when everyone wants to spend time with their family, and decreases in the new year when everyone needs the money.

Then there’s the people who really don’t enjoy Christmas. I, as well as most people I assume, love the time of year and makes the most of it, but I know that the festive season, and even winter in general, can be hard for those who are chronically or mentally ill, for those living in poverty or those who are homeless, and also for elderly people who may not have anyone to spend Christmas with. There are many reasons why people can become depressed or stressed around this time and I’m sure January, although it may be a relief for some that Christmas is over, may continue to make things worse for these people.

Then there’s the emotional strain. The pressure to think up unique and important New Year’s resolutions and stick to them or complete them within the year. We’ve all experienced that heart ache and gutted feeling of letting yourself down by binge eating on your new diet or constantly putting off the new hobby you swore you were going to start. Financially, we don’t have the money for opportunities to do news things and physically, we’re full of fat and alcohol left over from the holidays. Even the horrible, freezing weather stops us from doing things and confines us to our warm sofa and cocooned heated blanket. We’re a mess in January and most of us feel that we can’t be helped so what’s the point? Self-esteem plummets and along with it goes productivity, commitment, passion, creativity and motivation. It’s so hard to get out of bad habits and health is also slow to change so we shouldn’t put so much pressure on ourselves to be that “perfect” version of who we want to be. That version doesn’t truly exist because none of us our perfect. January is definitely the month of failure and we’d all be happier if we accepted that failing is a part of life and to really change we have to keep trying throughout the year, not just at the beginning. Waiting a whole year because you failed just to start again on another dose of self-improvement next year is a waste of our valuable lives.

I think that’s just about everything wrong with January but, if you still don’t think I’m right to say that the start of the year sucks, just step outside. Go to the shops, or the park or something, and look around at all the empty, tired, struggling, miserable people that last year spat back out.

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