January can feel like a slog in any year, but entering our second anniversary of Covid and to say we’re feeling battle-worn is a bit of an understatement.
Throw in short, grey days and sliding New Year’s resolutions, and it’s no wonder that the third Monday of the month has been declared the most depressing of the year: Blue Monday.
While things like going for a walk, dropping loved ones a line and having something really delicious for lunch helps, there are other ways to keep yourself perked up. We need fun, we need excitement, we need adventure - and we need it at a price that won’t send our eyebrows disappearing up into our hairlines.
To that end, we’ve rounded up a few cheerful pick-me-ups to slice through January’s gloom.
From lamps that will remind you what sunrise feels like, to beauty products that will spirit you away to tropical climes, here are the self-care buys to keep you going until the daffodils pop up in spring.
See our favourites below
Gymkhana Vegetarian Street Food Feast
Treat your tastebuds to a whistle-stop tour of the best Indian street food courtesy of legendary London restaurant Gymkhana. Restokit offers a selection of feasts for two, but if you’re a fan of picky things, we like the look of the vegetarian street food feast, £55 for two diners. It’s got all the big-hitters, from gol gappa and pau bhaji to bhel and a samosa chaat. There’s even a mango lassi to wash it all down with.
If this doesn't put a smile on your face, there are plenty of other food and recipe kits to try.
Pizza Pilgrims - easy sourdough pizzas you can make in a frying pan, makes two - from £13.95
Hoppers - transportative Sri Lankan fare - from £25
Makes Miso Hungry - try your hand at Japanese cuisine; this recipe kit makes it so easy - from £20
Grubby - more than 60 plant-based recipe kits to try - £10 off your first two boxes
Arena Flowers Never Far Away bouquet
Obliterate January’s grey filter with a bright and beautiful bouquet from one of ethical florists, Arena Flowers. They’ve got hand-tied bouquets, luxury arrangements, letterbox flowers and a rolling subscription for pretty petals at monthly intervals. There’s also a section for plants and gifts if you’re searching for a botanical birthday gift to mark the occasion.
Championing blue is the Out of the Blue bouquet (£45), a lovely arrangement featuring irises, lisianthus, delphiniums and other blooms in a cool colour spectrum.
Drunk Elephant T.L.C Sukari Babyfacial
A little beauty maths: round-the-clock central heating plus skin starved of natural sunlight equals a seriously lacklustre complexion. What to do? We say call in the big guns with Drunk Elephant’s Sukari Babyfacial, here to revitalise your skin and give you a full-moon-on-a-clear-night kind of glow.
The resurfacing treatment uses supercharged acids and antioxidant ingredients to shed dead cells, and brighten and tone to leave skin feeling and looking silky smooth.
It is on the spenny side, so if you’re on a budget, Wishful’s vitamin c-rich Yo Glow Enzyme Scrub is a worthy alternative and only £18 for 40ml.
Ninja Foodi 11-in-1 SmartLid 6L Multi Cooker and Air Fryer
Of the pandemic’s few positives is that more of us are cooking from scratch at home. But that doesn’t necessarily mean all of us are great at it, even all these months down the line. Luckily you can give your culinary prowess a major boost with Ninja.
The food tech company has a range of gadgets to help streamline cooking; our favourite is the Multi-Cooker which has gone through a redesign and now incorporates a pressure-cooking lid, so it will take up even less precious cupboard space. This baby practically replaces your entire kitchen, allowing you to slow cook, roast, grill, air fry, saute - even bake - with tremendous results (take it from us).
Meats remain succulent, stews richly flavoured, omelettes beautifully fluffy and chips crisped up using a fraction of the oil compared to regular frying. Is the Ninja Foodi Multi-Cooker a gateway to happiness? Quite possibly.
Montezuma's Happiness Bar
For a cheap and cheerful pick-me-up, chocolate is always a good idea. We're not talking about the usual suspects at the corner shop, mind you. An occasion like Blue Monday calls for something a little more special. Artisan chocolate brand Montezuma's has launched a Happiness Bar that's perfect for boosting the glummest Monday of the year. Expect a mix of smooth milk chocolate with hazelnut and caramel all wrapped up in a pretty blue 100 per cent recyclable packaging.
Lumie Bodyclock Luxe 750DAB Wake up to Daylight Table Lamp
Combining light therapy with sound, this Lumie option is clinically-proven to help SAD sufferers (Seasonal Affective Disorder aka the winter blues).
Inspired by natural sunrise (which, let’s face it, has been elusive for weeks in deepest winter), the lighting fades between low-blue light to signal the body to produce melatonin so you doze off, switching between pink, orange and red before turning off.
The multi-tasking product is also an alarm with 20 sound options, digital clock and nightlight.
Mela Comfort Weighted Blanket
Curling up under the covers may be one of our favourite activities in winter - until we discovered weighted blankets, that is. Designed to make you feel as though you're being hugged or held, they're particularly helpful for anyone suffering from restlessness or anxiety, offering a sense of calm in an instant - the perfect soother in these trying times. Mela Comfort's design is super soft and filled with anti-rustle pellets so you'll sleep like a log in blissful silence.
Sol de Janeiro Bum Bum Jet Set
Longing to sort your toiletries into 100ml bottles? Us too. Transport yourself to Brazil with Sol de Janeiro’s trio of the bestsellers, each infused with an exotic scent that'll fool you into thinking you're on Copacabana. As well as a fragrance mist (30ml), there's mini versions of the cult Bum Bum Cream (50ml) and Brazilian 4 Play Shower Cream-Gel (90ml).
Reviber Hot and Cold Percussion Massager
There's nothing like a good massage to put a spring back in your step, but regular sessions can be costly. An electric home-massager can save you pennies in the long run and help muscle recovery after a workout.
While celebrity favourite Theragun will set you back a tidy £300, there are great options for less than £100 too. Check out Reviber, which uses five settings to see to all those WFH knots. It's about time those robots started earning their keep.
Philips Hue lights
With natural daylight still woefully in short supply, it’s time to turn to sources other than the sun. Philips Hue is a range of smart wireless lighting and accessories from the tech giants, and can change colours, switch on remotely and create moods for work, rest and play.
The bulbs, sensors and switches can be paired with voice command apps such as Alexa, Apple HomeKit, Microsoft Cortana and Google Assistant ,but you can also control the app to make your handset your home lighting HQ.
With myriad studies supporting light’s positive psychological effect on energy, dopamine and circadian levels, Philips Hue can bring joy to your life in many ways. The future of lighting is here, and we have to say, it’s never looked brighter.
Zara x Jo Loves Vetiver Pamplemousse EDP and Candles Set
Welcome news that Zara’s Jo Loves fragrance collab now includes candles. For just shy of £40, this gift set includes a slim 40ml EDP with a pair of matching 75g candles so you can fully envelop yourself in the scent of your choice. Our pick? The fresh and clean Vetiver Pamplemousse, which is almost as fun to say as it is to sniff.