As I’m writing this, it’s January.
Soon after ‘Blue Monday’, in fact. Said to be the most depressing day of the year
And I’m thinking about comfort.
The ways that we can soothe ourselves through the dark days of winter and the things we might need to help us achieve that aim.
Even though the Mental Health Foundation says Blue Monday is a myth, some of the factors that have caused it to be nicknamed are certainly true of the month of Janaury in general:
Gloomy and grey days. Cold and wet weather. Back-to-work feeling. Post-Christmas blues (and debts). Dark mornings and evenings.
It can be a lot to deal with emotionally, especially when you bring Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) and general low mood into the mix.
The lack of exposure to sunlight in the winter can cause distuption to our circadium rhythm and the body’s production of melatonin and serotonin, which are linked to lethargy and feelings of depression – symptoms of SAD.
So it’s no wonder that some of us might be seeking to improve our January by enjoying a little extra comfort:
- Introducing extra blankets, hot water bottles and cushions to the bed and on the sofa.
- Adding soft, cosy lighting such as fairy lights, lamps or candles.
- Layering up with extra knitwear, thermal bases or dressing gowns.
- Choosing warming baths over showers, with bottles of bubble bath, face masks and luxury hair products.
- Treating ourselves to some new items from the January sales; clothing, tech, homewares, cosmetics.
- Enjoying entertainment by buying new music, films, books, magazines, games.
All of these items – and anything else that brings you comfort – may be benficial to your wellbeing in January. Anything that can help you relax, feel supported and put a smile on your face seems like a positive thing to do.
But, to some minimalists, the list above constitutes clutter. Those items are all surplus to requirements, making them essentially non-minimalist. You are re-cluttering.
And we need to consider the cost factor; how much of your hard-earned money is going to be ‘wasted’; how much space are the items going to take up; how much time will you need to spend maintaining those extra pieces.
The novelty of buying new things can bring a short-term boost but, as I’ve explored previously, the desire to acquire soon wears off. So even though a shopping trip to get some new comforting items might uplift you now, it’s possible that you may regret those purchases in the near future.
But, does a sparse home with only the essentials provide enough comfort? Both physically and emotionally? If you’re looking around a room with only the furniture needed to house the small number of belongings you have and nothing else, is it going to soothe you when you need to feel ‘at home’ and comfortable.
Sometimes, having a little more than the bare essentials is important in keeping us satisfied.
Sure, have just one sofa – but adding a blanket and a cushion can make it into somewhere you’d like to settle down and relax. Yes, create a capsule wardrobe of items that all work together, but why not choose an extra-snuggly knit for those cold wintery days when you want to stay warm? Okay, a light fitting in the ceiling does the job of illuminating the room, but a lamp or string of fairy lights will bring that soft glow that’ll make you feel cosy.
Nothing is clutter if it feels right to you and has a positive impact on your wellbeing.
All of those non-essential items are what make a house a home, and can help you to feel abundant rather than scarce, both of which are uplifting when it’s a grey Monday in the middle of winter and you need a little extra comfort.
NHS (2022) Overview: Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) [Online]. [Accessed 17th Janaury 2024]. Available from: https://www.nhs.uk/mental-health/conditions/seasonal-affective-disorder-sad/overview/
Kousoulis, A. (2021) What does blue monday mean for our mental health? [Online]. [Accessed 17th January 2024] Available from: https://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/explore-mental-health/blogs/what-does-blue-monday-mean-our-mental-health