How to Be a Functioning Person Again This January
Potential solutions for post-Christmas ennui that don't involve excessive movement or giving something up.
Christmas is over and I, for one, cannot wait to experience the infamous "hunger" again. Right now I’m still operating at a base level of fullness which means anything that goes in – any bite of sandwich or gulp of smoothie – will spend the next hour threatening to lurch from the back of my throat and into my mouth. Digestion? I hardly knew her.
It was fine before, when all anyone had to do was recline like a pregnant monarch, chain-watching old episodes of Gavin & Stacey and inching slowly towards gout. Now we have to do things. Be people. Open emails and comprehend them and all that stuff. It’s a challenge at the best of times, but trying to jumpstart your brain after more than two days off in a row requires the kind of discipline that went out the window with national service and homeownership. It can't be done. Your mind is gone now – somewhere else, somewhere better, like the family dog having found a solitary space in which to die. This sluggish behaviour is precisely why the Tories won’t let us have a three-day weekend and, though I'm all for it personally, I can sort of see why.
The end of December is lauded as a time of rest and rejuvenation, but how can that be when it is also a time of having a lager for breakfast and getting the shits? What becomes of us all as the magical delirium of Christmas wears off and we find ourselves, dazed and rotund, staring down the barrel of continued winter? How does one return to this archaic way of living where you have to have a job and eat fruit? How does one adjust to this increasingly unfavourable reality?
Some potential solutions:
Do as Little as Possible
For reasons good and plentiful, January has a bad reputation as the most depressing month of the year. In another light, though, it is January, not December, that is the true R&R month. Too cold to want to go outside; no social obligations to drag you there. Consider this a get out of public free card – bonus time in which to actually do all the things you always imagine you’ll do over Christmas, like reading a book in a chair while wearing a dressing gown, or closing your eyes and having a nice think.
Indeed, January is the bedtime of the soul. As Drake once said, what a time to leave your phone on silent, watch The Office in full (again) and only reply to invitations with "sounds fun but not for me thanks!"
Do as Much as Possible
Language classes! Exhibitions! Seeing that friend who lives in zone 5 you’ve been meaning to catch up with for the last ten months; Taxes! Live music! Going to the cinema! Four! Nights! A Week!
If your existence isn’t couched in forcing yourself to do stuff you don’t really want to do, so when death comes knocking you can offset any regret by pointing to the time you went to a harsh noise show in a former working men’s club on a Tuesday and thinking, 'Yeah, I did stuff, I lived,' are you even alive in modern Britain?
I know this is particularly easy for me – a reasonably healthy, slim woman who tends to hover around the same weight regardless of what I put in my body unless it's cheese – to say, but: fuck a diet. Eating whatever you want whenever is good advice all year round, but in this case it carries a specific moral implication.
We should be forced to deal with the consequences of all the over-buying we did during the latter quadrant of last year so that we might learn from our disgraceful, gluttonous behaviour. We deserve to be force-fed a weird diet of turkey, Wensleydale and breadstick sandwiches until everything is gone. We must eat the mini-burgers bought on a whim, not bury them in the back of the freezer until the guilt of tossing them out subsides. Anyone who saves the unopened boxes of After Eights for Easter is a coward. Any stray Quality Street found knocking about a living room in February will carry a sentence of ten days in prison.
Christmas leftovers are cat piss on the carpet of capitalism, and if we don’t rub our own faces in it then who will?
Ignore the News
The next few weeks are a write-off, emotionally and psychologically. No one is in their right mind because they just spent a disproportionate amount of time consuming E numbers and talking to their family members. In this condition, any bad news – which is all the news there is – is likely to make people hostile. Being contained in such close quarters for so long also means there’s a lot of pent-up aggression ready to fly off in all sorts of directions once you’ve been released back to your normal life, which is maybe why grown adult Piers Morgan just spent a full 24 hours being angry on Twitter about a sausage roll.
If there’s one thing the recent past has taught us, it’s that there’s nothing you can do about anything, and January is bleak enough as it is without inviting this kind of negative energy into your life. Save it for spring when you can drink on the bus about it.
Begin Anew; Drop All Lingering Responsibilities from Last Year
Everything that didn’t resolve itself in 2018, forget about. Now is the time for mental clearance. Delete all your draft tweets. Remove everything from your online shopping baskets. Drop anyone you’ve been beefing with off the face of the Earth. Throw out the houseplant you’ve been trying to revive since October. Pick a new sport, because if you were too lazy to take up tennis at 28 you’re certainly not going to at 29.
The only way to move forward is to never look back. That thing you lost? Gone. That ill-advised declaration of love sent to someone even more ill-advised around 11:57PM on New Year’s Eve? Irrelevant. That £20 you owe someone for doing half their drugs at a Christmas party after insisting you didn’t want to go in on it beforehand? Sounds like a 2018 problem to me, sorry.
Get Bang Into...
Not exercise. What are you going to do – jog? In this economy? Christ, no. I'm talking about something reasonable: cooking, whittling, Frasier, board games, supermarket loyalty schemes, anal – it really doesn’t matter as long as it’s compelling enough to distract you from the fact that literally nothing will ever be as enjoyable as sitting on the couch having a jam roly-poly and a glass of wine in your pyjamas at 3PM, and how upsetting it is that you’re not allowed to do that every single day.
Whatever Manner in Which You Are Personally Abusing Caffeine, Stop It
British people don’t know how to deal with spare time so we fill it with tea. One beat before a conversation has a chance to lull, someone will smack their hands down on the tops of their thighs and announce – not ask – "tea". Ad break in Coronation Street: tea. Weird uncle pops round even though you said you wouldn’t be in specifically so he wouldn’t do that: tea. Family friend left alone in a room with you is about to ask some follow-up questions, such as, "Do you like living in London then?" which you don’t want to answer because your responses will come off depressing and nobody wants to be a bummer for Christmas: tea. Someone does a cough: tea.
By 7PM you’ve consumed several pints of the stuff, your skin is dryer than the crack between a camel’s hoof and you have to get up six times in the night to piss. This is far, far too much caffeine, exacerbated by awkwardness and lack of structure. It’s a habit easily carried over into the day-to-day – but, for the sake of your blood pressure, please, have a delicious tap water instead.
I know this is my answer to everything, but I really have yet to find a problem besides "war" that it can’t solve, and even then I feel like if certain angry men who shall remain nameless got their nut more frequently, we wouldn’t be in the mess we are today.
Riddle me this: over Christmas I got two UTIs and couldn’t sleep (highly uncharacteristic) because the walls in my parents' house are paper thin and my mother has ears like a greater wax moth. The minute I arrived back in my own home I busted one out and have been absolutely fine since. Coincidence, because I’ve spent two weeks drunk, overeating and immobile, and not doing that has proven beneficial to my general wellbeing, or: the science of the nut? You tell me. At this rate I predict to be back on form by Monday. I will quite simply wank my way to the top of my game, and I challenge you to do the same. No Nut November is over – welcome to Jack Off January.