The January Blues

I just learned a quick and “easy” Blues set of chords on my ukulele. That is a great segue into my mid-week blog post. The January blues, listen to my blues (imagine, pretend!):

  • A7 – for 4 bars – I’ve got the blues!
  • D7 – for 2 bars (some form of easy D7) – The January blues!
  • A7 – for 2 bars – The COVID is still here…
  • E7 – for 2 bars – The cold is still here…
  • D7 – for 2 bars – I’ve got the blues!
  • A7 – for 2 bars – The January blues!
  • A7 – end on an A7 whole note… – Oh, I’ve got the bluuuuuuueeeeees!

The January blues aka the winter blues are a real thing for people. Up north in Alberta, where I’m from, we’re in month 3 of winter weather and it’s been really cold. Then it got warm for a couple of days, and now it’s cold again. We’re stuck inside, the roads are bad, sidewalks are bad, the excitement of Christmas and the New Year is over, we’re back to work, and spring seems so far away!

Heck, I want to leave my Christmas decorations up because they bring me joy and bring a smile!

But I don’t want to focus on the negative of January & winter (that never changes), but how I and we can get out of it and help ourselves. Sure, we could just wait for spring, but that’s 3 or 4 months away. Here are some things I do and you can do to cheer ourselves up!!

Things I do in January to fight the Blues!

Virtual golf

I play virtual golf all winter! Not only is it fun, but I get to work on my golf swing all winter. I used to take all of the winter off, but then you experience the spring regression. Every spring, I’d lose 25-50% of my swing from the previous year. Now when spring comes, my muscles are ready to go! I hope to maintain 90-95% of my swing. In the last couple of years, I’ve scheduled winter lessons and tried to improve my swing thru the winter. It’s also great exercise and a great release. There is something satisfying about smashing a golf ball. It’s an amazing stress release. Finally, I get to hang out with a couple of my golfing buddies and maintain our friendship.

Ukelele

I usually pick up something in January that I did in the past. This year that is playing the ukulele. I picked it up again this week and started strumming again. There is something satisfying about restarting a hobby. Last year, I bought some beginner courses from a couple of sites, but never made it thru all of the content. In fact, I hadn’t even started 3 courses that I bought from Uke Like the Pros. Throughout the winter, I’ve been following them on YouTube and entered a few random draws.

Seeing my wife and father-in-law play guitar & fiddle together, making wonderful music inspires me. So I picked it up again. And last night, I was playing the blues! I’ve rededicated myself to play 10-15 minutes a night in January and play my way thru the courses that I already paid for last year!

It also leads to my next point. Set a goal and starting working on it!

Goals

The easiest way for me to stay motivated is to set up a goal. That in turn sets up a new habit. Hopefully, when it all comes together, I grow as a person and learn, and that makes me happy.

The easiest way for me to meet my goals is to set mini-goals and work on them. For example, this week, I wanted to check out and finish a course from Uke Like the Pros. Done! I already met that goal this week and I am slowly starting to remember my past training. And I really enjoy his teaching! Last night, I learned the “easy” blues. He calls it easy, I assume, because it uses basic & easy to chord notes.

Are you having problems getting motivated? Set some mini-goals. It doesn’t have to be hard. It doesn’t have to be huge. You don’t have to lose 25 pounds this month. Just set a goal to do laps in your house for 10 minutes a day. Start with something small, manageable and doable. Get some little victories first. Then expand your goal to something bigger.

For example, I’m starting with 10-15 minutes a night, catching up on basic uke skills, and taking those beginner courses that I already have access. I’d love to play some uke with my wife, but that’s a big future goal. For me, I need to keep it simple and work thru some baby steps. IF I stick with it, and I get better, I’ll naturally get good enough to meet that goal. But that’s how I work thru goals. Focus on the baby steps!

Stay active

Yes, stay active. It’s easy to sit on the couch and watch movies all winter. But this feeds into the blues. Get moving. Get your blood flowing. Activate your muscles. Get outside for a winter walk. Go for a skate! Go out for a coffee! Pick up your take out. Go to the gym! Get out of the house! The fresh air will do you good!

Take care of yourself

Self care is important! There are a lot of things that you can do to take care of yourself. In this case, I mean take care of your basic hygiene. During the pandemic and work from home, many of us have become “lazy” or non-caring when it comes to our appearance. You might be affected by it without realizing it. I believe the old saying is still true “You feel how you look”.

Are you wearing track pants and a t-shirt at home everyday? Maybe you never get out of your pajamas. Are you doing your hair? Are you putting on make up? Or are you simply keeping the webcam off so no one sees you working from home?

Take care of yourself! One day a week, dress up in real work clothes. Pretend you are going into the office for the day. Put some gel into your hair. Spend time on your makeup. Order in, and dress up fancy with your spouse one night!

As the saying goes: If you look good, you’ll feel good!

Switch it up

It’s been winter for 3 months. I’m pretty set in my schedule. Wake up – walk for 50 mins – eat breakfast – work – lunch – work – dinner – 1 hour of hobbies – watch tv – stretch – bed – repeat. Golf on Saturday mornings. Long run on Sunday mornings. We order out on the same nights from the same places.

I’m exaggerating a little. I’m not in a rut, but life seems pretty scheduled. Every weekday looks similar and starts to blend. Every weekend seems too short!

So switch it up! Try something new. If you never order out on a weekday… well, do it! Find a new restaurant to order from or try a new dish that you’ve never ordered before. Or, and I know this is scary, SKIP a day. Skip your normal routine. Take a day off in the middle of the week! Don’t work out for one day! Sleep in! If you work out in the morning, work out in the evening.

I followed my own advice this week:

  1. I took off my Monday morning walk and slept in.
  2. I jumped on the rower on Monday evening.
  3. My Tuesday lunch time walk was cancelled, so I hit the elliptical at noon.
  4. And I’m going to virtual golf on a weeknight!

Here are some ideas for you

Here are some ideas that I’ve used in the past or maybe some ideas that help you with your own January blues:

  1. Book a massage, hair cut or spa day!
  2. Go to the mall. The mall is a great indoor place to take a walk. West Edmonton Mall has a lot to offer from shops, things to do and people watching.
  3. Go to the WEM Waterpark. It’s sunny in there. It’s warm. It feels like summer!
  4. Clean / declutter a drawer or pantry or room.
  5. Take a course or sign up for a new class.
  6. Start a new hobby. Or restart an old hobby.
  7. Cook a special recipe. Treat yourself to dessert.
  8. Listen to some music from your favorite band.
  9. Binge watch your favorite movies or series.
  10. That 10th item on your todo list that you never get to; do that!
  11. Call someone! Pick up the phone and call someone and tell them you love them. Or just chat.
  12. Remind yourself of what you are grateful for. Either write it down in a journal or just purposefully think about it, every day!
  13. Order something frivolous online.
  14. Get a sun lamp and “sun tan” in front of it.
  15. Start or stop something that you’ve been meaning to do!

Wrap up

The January blues are a thing for a lot of people. Most of us start the year with new ideas and hope. By mid-January, a lot of people have already returned back to their old ways and habits. But we can all help ourselves! You can take action to beat the blues. And it doesn’t have to be a big overhaul. Just do something simple. Do something different. Switch it up.

You’ll be amazed at how something so little can make such a difference. I know it does for me!!!

3 Responses

  1. Great suggestions. Yes, I dress every day with an occasional dy off on casual Friday. I also do my hair and only mascara for makeup. I need to get out and see people. I’m lacking there. It’s easy to become a hermit and hard to break.

    1. Haha. Yeah. It’s easy to get into the habit of hermiting. Is that a verb? Maybe it should be! The best thing is to try to schedule something to get out of the house, and then do it!

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