If someone asked me to describe January 2018 in one word I’d probably say ‘whirlwind’. The first month of the year has really picked me up and tossed me around a bit, and I kind of feel like I’m writing this post from within a washing machine of chaotic thoughts and day routines. I have a feeling the spinning isn’t going to halt for February, but maybe it can slow down a little so I can get to grips with life.
I know I’m not quite walking and controlling the dog known as life yet, but I’m hoping February will give me the chance to chase after it on foot, rather than being dragged around desperately clinging onto the leash, not knowing which way is up. That doesn’t mean the month has been full of stress and nothing wonderful though, it’s just been quite full on in every direction, both positive and negative emotions.
My family and I spent the new year in Wales, and so the first couple of days of the month were very relaxed, and I have a lot of great memories from that week away. However, it did mean that once we returned home, I was already behind on my university work for 2018. I rushed to finish two essays and got them in by their deadlines, but since then I’ve been scrabbling to catch up and I’m still not quite there. I really struggle to keep my motivation up when I’m already behind, because I usually plan so that I’m ahead of what needs to be done. That’s my comfort zone, and for the whole of January I’ve been racing to try and get back into that space, but it’s a moving target, and therefore not so easy to catch up with.
Another aspect of January that knocked the study motivation out of me, like a football to the stomach, was the sudden urge and inspiration to apply for physical university (as I’m currently distance learning). Of course I had to have this revelation three days before the university application deadline, without having written a personal statement or obtaining a reference. That was a stressful weekend. But, with the help of my family, I managed to get an application in on time, and so far I’ve received two offers! All of this would mean starting first year again (what I’m currently doing) so in some ways this drained my motivation to carry on studying a little – but I’m determined to finish what I’ve started, so I will push through that reluctance.
It turned out that the uni application deadline also happened to be the first day of my new job as a Healthcare Assistant, something I have no experience in whatsoever. Since starting there, I have learnt so much: about healthcare, about compassion and care, about working with so many different kinds of people, about myself. It’s been a steep learning curve, and I’m still finding my feet.
To combat all of the stress and anxiety of studying, decision-making and working, I decided to take up yoga. I didn’t want to set a daily target or anything for this, because I knew I’d find it too daunting to stick to, but by putting it on my ‘tracker’ page in my new bullet journal, I’ve been aware of trying to get it into as many days as I feel I can. This month I’ve done yoga ten times, so roughly around a third of the days. That’s something I’m proud of!
I’ve also been getting outside more, and going for walks around my local area. I think this has really helped me. In the past I got into the habit of staying inside for a few days in a row; I think my mental health suffered because of this. So this is a daily target, and one I now stick to most days.
Blogging has also helped me a lot this January. I really like having a space that regularly nudges me to be creative, engage with other people and just write. I have always found writing therapeutic and having a reason to do it as part of my everyday life really helps boost my mood.
Noticing small moments of happiness and writing them down as part of a gratitude page in my bullet journal has also helped me to appreciate the parts of my life that I love.
Nevertheless, January also served as a reminder that sometimes, even if you do a whole handful of things to prevent low moods, it can be very hard to avoid dark feelings. Last week was a bad one for me. I had a not-so-great day at work, I struggled to concentrate on studying, I received one of my essays back with a bad mark, I felt like everything was difficult and I didn’t have the energy within me to deal with it. I tried to remember that it wouldn’t last, that the clouds do eventually pass over and the sun does shines again.
And sure enough it did. This week I’ve been feeling a lot better mentally and I’ve thrown myself into studying and yoga and reading and blogging and even simple tasks like laundry and tidying. I’m making a very conscious effort this week to do things that help me feel more stable.
I guess that brings us to now! What’s in store for February then? More studying, more learning how to be a Healthcare Assistant, getting more active, throwing myself into hobbies and future plans… It’s not going to be an easy breezy month, but there have been harder things, and I feel apprehensively excited about everything coming up.
How has January been for you? What are your February plans?
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