Little things

Returning to work after Christmas can feel dark – literally and metaphorically.  

If you’re in an office job like mine, you’ve hopefully had an extended break from the office and the routine that goes with it.

The fear, which starts when you realise you can’t remember your network password, what you were doing before the break, or even what you do for a living can be daunting.

At the same time, the Christmas spirit is departing, the decorations are coming down, and spring is a long way away. These can leave you feeling flat.

The start of a dry walk.

For these reasons, I wanted to blog about some of the little things that help boost my mental health. I’ll refer to this list on the darker/wetter days.  


Throughout the year, I try to do some decent exercise each day. This is usually in the form of a walk or bike ride. This stopped at Christmas, when the diary filled with other things that were more important, like eating trifle.

Yesterday, the rain disappeared for long enough to enjoy a good walk with Teddy and Oscar. Getting out of the house into the fresh air and sunshine made the day feel much better. I was more motivated when I got home to complete some of the other chores on my list.  

I’ve now got the exercise bike back out for the new year and look forward to beating some records on it.


I like to use the time I am exercising to listen to music or podcasts. This hour or so a day allows me to escape whatever else has occupied my mind and go somewhere else.  

I’ve missed this at Christmas and am ready to pick up where I left off with my food, travel, comedy and history podcasts. I’ll intersperse these with my favourite Spotify playlists.

Family time

The best thing about Christmas wasn’t the food, drink or presents, but spending time with those family and friends I love.

I got to spend two quality weeks with Teddy for the first time since my paternity leave. We definitely grew closer because of this.  

Teddy having a chill.

While I won’t have that time now I am back at work, I will make sure we have time every evening for cuddles and playing with his new toys. Like we did over the festive break.


I love writing. I love writing for work and I love writing for pleasure. I don’t always find the time to write. So, this year, I’ll be reminding myself how much joy it brings me and finding the time to do more writing.

That will include blogs which are in someway related to communications or the workplace.  

But it’ll also include more of my food blogs and those on lighter subjects. Writing these makes me happy. They immediately lift my mood. If you’ve read them, you’ll see my tongue is often firmly in cheek as I write something preposterously, pompously pretentious about a bowl of soup or slice of pizza.


I read every night before bed, but too often, it’s a few snatched pages when I know I should already be asleep. I am going to try and go to bed just a few minutes earlier, so I can read a few more pages and make a bit more progress.  

Doing this should also mean I can read more books and broaden what I read.

As I do most of my reading on my Kindle/the Kindle app, I should be able to see how successful I am.

A very small Teddy checking out what Daddy was reading.

Everything else

These are just a snapshot of the things I take pleasure from. Others include:

  • Seeing friends
  • Food – both dining out, cooking new things and baking bread
  • Pubs, real ale and craft beer
  • Exploring and traveling  

A caveat

These are the small things that can help me on days I feel flat or don’t have energy. They won’t provide an answer to some of the bigger stresses in our lives. These feel increasingly real as we start 2023.

If you need support, please do seek this. Feel free to contact me for a chat.

What about you?

What boosts your mental health in the darker days? Do you have any tips?  

Published by Ian Curwen

Communications professional and a bit of a foodie that wants to travel more. Sharing my observations on life.

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