My top 10 tips for surviving January...

The toughest month of the year - January. At least that's how I feel. The festive season is over, the decorations are down, we're back to work, the sky shows no sign of brightening and mornings are still dark and cold...

So, there are a few things that I do in order to "survive" this most awful of months and I thought I'd share them with you.

1. Fairy lights are not just for Christmas, you know. Just because the festive season is over, it doesn't mean that your home can't still have a warm glow during the dark months which makes you look forward to coming back after your day at work.

2. Candles help to unwind, forget about the damp and grey weather and literally warm up the atmosphere.

3. If a decorative piece fits in - why not leave it? Ok, pack those baubles and singing Santas away, that's not what I meant. I did, however decide to leave the branch used as an "Advent calendar" hanging on the wall. Paper stars, pretty garlands, pine cones - displayed in bowls or a large vase can all look pretty without feeling out of place after December.

4. It feels a little early (at least for another two weeks) for cheerful and fresh flowers, so instead I've cut off some branches of our Christmas tree to keep in water. It's still Winter and I associate these greens not only with Christmas...

5. Cosy up! A woolly blanket, some velvety cushions and even thick socks will keep you feeling and your home looking warm.

6. Now that the scent of mulled wine and baked goods has disappeared (unless you're a hard-core baker, you've probably baked enough last month to last at least until Spring), make sure your home still smells inviting. Diffusers, scented candles and pump sprays - whichever you prefer - a warm scent will brighten your mood.

7. I know, I know, everybody is on a diet for at least another week ;-) But seriously: do you really feel like salad and grilled chicken breast when the temperature is just above freezing outside? Isn't it much easier to do this when the days are warmer and longer? Anyway, eating healthily is important, but so is a bit of sweet comfort. Don't completely deny yourself - a cup of hot chocolate on a rainy Sunday afternoon is heaven and will make you (nearly) appreciate the cold season.

8. The manic planning and preparing for Christmas is over, the parties done and there's a seemingly endless time to fill before the sunnier months tempt us back outside. Now is the time to pick up that unread book, write snail-mail letters to friends, sort through photographs, or have a relaxed evening playing good old-fashioned board games...

9. Time for something handmade. Knitting, sewing, repainting picture frames - crafting shouldn't just be about special occasions. It should be about enjoying time spent being creative and long evenings are perfect for that.

10. Close your eyes, relax, think about the year ahead, reminisce about the past year, day dream and listen to the rain outside - maybe seeing this month as a new beginning makes it all a little easier...

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