Fearne Cotton’s advice on staying positive when it’s cold and dark outside

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Struggling to start the new year in a good place? Fearne Cotton is here to help.

A positive January… is that an oxymoron? It might seem impossible, what with dark evenings, raw knuckles from the chill and pressure to abstain from all alcohol after the decadence of December, but maybe it’s a chance to see things from another angle.

The new year might seem boring, lacklustre and preachy with all of its rules but could it also be ripe for learning and starting again? I think so. On top of the cliches being ticked for a miserable month, we also seem to hear the worst of the worst. People getting sick, lack of jobs for those who need them and horror on the news. It feels hard to escape and can lead to ranting, raving and a lack of joy. Here are my top 10 ways to tackle it all from a different perspective.

Be grateful

Be thankful you have a bed - then do something to help those who don’t 

Every night I send a beaming ‘thank you’ out into the ether for the fact that I am climbing into a warm bed with a duvet. I feel utter heartbreak for those homeless at this time of year and never take my bed for granted. Gratitude is always a good way of turning the end of your day into a more positive place. There are many shelters and charities that need supplies and hands on deck so it’s a good chance to show the love.

Stylist recommends: Visit and for advice on how you can help tackle homelessness and sign up for Shelter’s skyscraper challenge on 14 March.

Marie Kondo it

Tidying with Marie Kondo on Netflix.
Marie Kondo is the poster woman for our obsession with decluttering.

Which leads me on nicely to my big January clear-out. Each year I like to do a sweep through my house with bin bag in hand. I take old books and clothes I don’t need to our nearest charity shops. My house feels fresh and ready for a new start. Hopefully my belongings bring joy to someone else.

Stylist recommends: Take inspiration from the queen of clear-outs in Tidying Up With Marie Kondo, streaming on Netflix now.

Get moving

Running as a couple

Moving is key. This is the month where you will naturally sway towards a pair of woolly socks and a comfy couch, but getting into the fresh air or doing a cardio session at home will instantly elevate your mood.

Stylist recommends: Make exercise social by doing it with your friends. Look up for events in your area.

Shift your perspective

“Bad news makes me open my eyes a little wider”: Fearne Cotton 

Bad news is never easy to swallow, but it often makes me open my eyes a little wider. When those around me fall sick or receive some bad news, my own problems become background noise.

Small things I deemed problematic all of a sudden seem banal and self-indulgent. My perspective shifts. My empathy dilates and I want to help. It’s a time to look around us with open hearts, which is helpful to others and ourselves.

Stylist recommends: Read Letter To My Daughter by Maya Angelou, which advises: “If you cannot make a change, change the way you have been thinking. You might find a new solution.”

Check your screen time

Try to switch off 

Take stock of how much news, social media and digital information you’re digesting. It is wonderful to be informed, but if you feel overwhelmed and flattened by what you’re reading then give yourself breaks from scrolling or a time limit for watching news. Having knowledge is only really helpful if it gives you a different positive perspective or spurs you on to make positive changes.

Stylist recommends: Seek out good news. The Happy News celebrates positive news around the world.

Read all about it

Dig into a new novel this month 

January for me is all about books. I’m a complete bookworm and rarely happier than when in bed with my hooter deep in a brilliant novel or autobiography. It’s my place for learning and escapism; I always feel uplifted and inspired after a good book.

Stylist recommends: Fearne’s current reading list: To Shake The Sleeping Self, Jedidiah Jenkins’ epic cycling memoir, and The Storm Keeper’s Island, a magical YA fantasy novel by Catherine Doyle.

Rest up

Embrace the cosiness 

Instead of fretting about not getting any sun until May, seek out the joy in cosiness. Take the lead from our Scandi neighbours and luxuriate in chunky knits and hot chocolate. Get some early nights while it’s still so dark.

Stylist recommends: These five excellent tips from Dr Nerina Ramlakhan on how to get better sleep.

Keep the faith

“Thinking of your own ability to do good is vital” 

Have hope. This is a loaded notion but whether you place hope in the universe or the greater good or a God, know that it is also possible to place hope in yourself. This is often the trickiest task but thinking of your own ability to do good is vital if you want to stay positive. Collect mantras and phrases you say aloud or in your head to remind yourself that you are enough.

Stylist recommends: Look to the literary greats for motivational mantras or write your own.

Hold your tongue

Think before you speak 

If you’re feeling ranty (as I often do) take a step back, let a minute pass and listen rather than talk. I always regret things I’ve said flippantly and hastily and nearly always wish I had held my tongue. This isn’t about being weak, it’s about giving yourself time to clarify what you want out of a situation.

Stylist recommends: Read And Breathe by Rebecca Dennis or try a meditation app such as Headspace, which offers patience training.

Give yourself a break

Be kind to yourself 

Stop setting yourself unmanageable tasks. Make this the year you are kind to yourself. I wrote my new book, Quiet, because I struggle with this. I find the darker voices in my head shout louder than the kind ones. 

Start giving yourself a break and watch how that positively affects those around you. The ripple effect of good and calm has to start within. Stop giving yourself a hard time and start telling yourself that you are brilliant.

Stylist recommends: A self-care podcast like Oprah’s SuperSoul Conversations or Untangle, will help you to really slow down.

Quiet (£20, Orion Spring) is out now; series two of Fearne’s Happy Place podcast is available now.

Images: Getty ImagesPixabay / Netflix / Pexels