Today is officially the most depressing day of the year – but fear not. Not only will tomorrow be better; there are also reasons to be cheerful today. So if you are struggling to find the joy in January, try these top reasons to be cheerful.

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We survived the 21.12.12 Mayan apocalypse. It’s given us the chance to make the most of a year some feared we would never see. So wrap up warm, go out and celebrate simply being alive. Take a walk in the woods and kick leaves, or enjoy a walk on a beach and build a sandcastle (or a Mayan-inspired pyramid).

Missing that festive feeling? You can still catch some pantomimes (oh yes you can). Dick Whittington runs at the Pavilion Theatre, Gorleston, from this Wednesday to Sunday. And the Loddon Players will be giving the final performances of their 2013 panto, Rumpelstiltskin, on January 24, 25 and 26.

There’s a royal baby on the way. Everyone loves a baby, and this little prince or princess looks likely to be extra specially lucky, with a chance to spend at least part of his or her royal childhood on the Sandringham estate.

So why is today so bad?

Firstly, there is even a positive to this most negative of questions, because no one can realy expect us to understand the workings. Dr Cliff Arnall, a part-time tutor in seasonal disorders at the university of Cardiff, has done the maths so that we son’t have to, and worked out that the combination of foul weather, debt, fading Christmas memories, failed resolutions and a lack of motivation will conspire to depress even the cheeriest souls amoung us today.

His model for January 21 is [W+ (D-d)] x TQ = M x NA.

The equation is apparently broken down into seven variables: (W) weather, (D) debt, (d) monthly salary, (T) time since Christmas, (Q) time since failed quit attempt, (M) low motivational levels and (NA) the need to take action.

Arnall found that while days technically get longer after December 21, cyclonic weather systems that hold in January, bringing low, dark clouds to Britain and periodic showers of misery, self-absorption and despair.

With most of us breaking our good intentions to stop smoking, visit the gym three times a week, drink less or diet within just six to seven days, even the hangers-on fall off the wagon by the third week of January. “Following the initial thrill of New Year’s celebrations and turning over a new leaf, reality starts to sink in,” says Dr Arnall.

“The realisation coincides with the dark clouds rolling in and the obligation to pay off Christmas credit card bills.”

The formula was, ironically, devised to help a travel company analyse when people book their most expensive holidays. It seems that people are most likely to buy a ticket to paradise when they feel like they’re living in hell.

That’s the spirit - make yourself feel better about those credit card bills by increasing your debt. Brilliant!

Take heart – you could be living at the Russian Vostok Base in Antarctica which enjoys invigorating temperatures of minus 89C (40C colder than the average surface temperature of Mars) or Oymyakon in Russia (-71C), Snag, in Canada (-63C), Prospect Creek, Alaska (-79C) or Roger’s Pass in Montana USA (-56C). In parts of Canada, the snow doesn’t disappear until May. In comparison, we should all be wearing bikinis and lounging on sunbeds as we enjoy less rain (51.9mm compared to 54mm) and more sunshine (49.9hrs, 37.8hrs) per week than in December.

Chocolate. It’s that joyful time of year when it’s virtually a duty to drink hot chocolate, and Easter eggs are already in the shops. Norfolk has several chocolatiers – so there is the feel-good chance to support local businesses too.

Spring is on its way. Days are getting longer, snowdrops are appearing, and the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds is asking you to perform vital work for our wildlife, while sitting in the warm, gazing out at your garden. What’s not to like about taking part in the the RSPB Big Garden Bird Watch this coming Saturday and Sunday?

The nights are still long enough for plenty of stargazing and 2013 is set to be a year of high northern lights activity. This winter and next, look out for the arcs and spirals of pale green and pink light, generated by charged particles ejected by the sun colliding with particles in the earth’s atmosphere.

Try sunshine therapy. Head to Norwich International airport where you can jet off to a host of worldwide destinations. At the very least, you can book yourself some summer sun to look forward to. Visit for more details.

The snow gave us all the chance to release our inner child – and enjoy sledging, snowballing and making snowmen. And from Saturday right through until Sunday, April 7, Norwich Castle is promising even more magic. Its Magic Worlds exhibition explores magic and illusion and features spellbinding costumes, tricks and toys.

Pay it forward. Every day, do at least one thing to make others happy. Give a compliment, help your colleagues, give your seat on the bus to someone else or give a present to someone you love. When you make someone happy, you become happy and then people try to make you happy.

Hire a feel-good film. So what if George was actually trying to kill himself in It’s a Wonderful Life or that Nazis were chasing nuns in The Sound of Music? Everybody was smiling and singing then, weren’t they? Try the Radio Times’ Feel Good Movies top 10 – It’s a Wonderful Life; The Office Christmas Special (2003); Strictly Ballroom; Cinema Paradiso; The Rocky Horror Picture Show; Amelie; Grease; Toy Story; School of Rock; and Singin’ In The Rain. If things get really bad, you could actually try singing in the rain, although we’d draw the line at singing in the sleet.

Smile. Making yourself smile sets off all sorts of chemical reactions in your body which make you feel better. If it’s difficult to raise a grin, start with a smug smile at how pathetically easy it is to fool your brain into thinking that you can be happy – even when drowning in credit card bills.

There are a full 333 days until Christmas – and the sales are still on. So be positive: It’s a whole year until it’s January 21 again.

1 comment

  • Head to norwich airport and wait in the departure lounge until the airport opens probably around the end of march

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    Monday, January 21, 2013