Wellness: Five ways to beat the January Blues

From spending time in nature to investing in self-care and supporting good causes, here are five ways to feel good this new year

Spend some time in nature

House sparrow pictured at RSPB Ouse Washes Nature Reserve, Cambridgeshire, February. CREDIT Ben Andrew (54088370)
House sparrow pictured at RSPB Ouse Washes Nature Reserve, Cambridgeshire, February. CREDIT Ben Andrew (54088370)

The RSPB’s Big Garden Birdwatch returns this month. Now in its 42nd year, it’s an invitation to count the number of birds that visit your garden, balcony or local green space within a single hour to help the wildlife charity build up a picture of how different species are faring.

With a recent YouGov survey showing that 51% of adults in the UK have become more aware of nature since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, record numbers took part in 2021’s count: 18,500 in Cambridgeshire, almost 20,000 in Suffolk and more than one million nationwide, totting up 17 million bird sightings between them.

The most prevalent bird in Cambridgeshire last year was the house sparrow, with the blue tit topping the chart in Suffolk. Numbers of robins and blackbirds rose, while finch numbers continued to fall.

Hoping that last year’s record participation can be beaten in 2022 Beccy Speight, RSPB CEO, says: “We hope the Birdwatch has kindled a new passion for wildlife for the thousands who took part for

the first time last year – we need every voice raised to stand up for nature.”

The Birdwatch runs from January 28 to 30. Join in at rspb.org.uk/get-involved/activities/birdwatch

Get cosy (for a good cause)

Ever since I put a pair of Laidback London bootees on my feet back in November, I’ve a) barely taken them off, save to sleep and b) become evangelical, telling everyone I know they need to buy a pair immediately.

Not only are they unrivalled in terms of warmth and comfort - lined with fluffiest sheepskin, they cuddle your feet and ankles - like all Laidback footwear, they are made by artisans in Kenya, preserving traditional craftsmanship and supporting in-need communities.

Founded in 2001 by a London-based graduate who wanted to bring the crafts of his native Mombasa to his new home city, Laidback started life as a sandal brand before moving into shoes and boots.

Edged with crochet stitching and soled with crepe, making them durable as well as cute, the ankle boots are made from suede, a locally sourced by-product of the food industry, and come in various designs: pull-on, zipped or laced; block colour or animal print.

Still need convincing? Beyonce is a fan.

Setsu crochet side-zip ankle boot in leopard beige, £175, laidbacklondon.com

Take some time out

January’s dank days and dark nights getting you down? Pop into Primal 8, the new health and wellbeing cafe in Bury St Edmunds, and reboot in the Zen Den, a relaxation area complete with comfy sofa and soothing water feature.

Opening at the end of last year on the town’s Risbygate Street, Primal 8 is the brainchild of local couple Alison Turner and Chris Pask. Inspired by their own wellbeing journeys - healthy living helped her overcome medical issues and him lose eight stone - it’s part cafe, part shop, stocking everything from CBD-infused body balms and seaweed supplements to kombucha and bone broth.

Along with signature pasta and potato salad pots and cold pressed juices, you’ll find terpene teas on the menu: aromatic compounds found in plants, terpenes are believed to have a wide range of therapeutic effects, from aiding sleep to boosting energy. Sounds good.

Primal 8 is at 8 Risbygate Street, Bury St Edmunds and facebook.com/primal8healthandwellbeing

Shop with a clear conscience

An online store stocked with products which are planet-friendly, practical and aesthetically pleasing too, The Clean Market is on a mission to make lower-carbon living both more accessible and more fun. Want to find an eco alternative? The Clean Market is the place to shop, with its ‘easy swaps’ range - spanning stainless steel straws, water bottles and lunch boxes through to bamboo sponges, vegan soaps and natural toothpastes and deodorants - the current top seller.

With home, beauty, baby and pet departments to browse and buy from, you’ll find all the basics and lots of little luxuries too, such as jewellery and fragrance, with both curated and bespoke gift boxes available to order.

Championing small and independent businesses that share its values and visions, The Clean Market only stocks items which are organic, natural, sustainable, zero waste, vegan and in some cases also handmade. A standout is the rubberwood tableware: mugs, plates, bowls, and dishes made from natural, sustainable, durable and beautiful rubberwood, ideal for food and drink vessels as it has innate antibacterial and anti-mould properties.

For more information and to shop see thecleanmarket.co.uk

Give yourself a little TLC

With cold winds whipping outside and central heating blaring inside, winter can play havoc with your skin. Unbeatable for its ability to both salve and protect, the Shea Butter collection at L’Occitane is best-selling - one tube of the hand cream sells every four seconds worldwide - and with good reason: dubbed ‘women’s gold’ in its native Africa, the star ingredient is loaded with nourishing Omega 3 and 6 and antioxidant Vitamin E.

The products don’t only do skin good, either: L’Occitane sources its 100% Fair Trade and sustainably harvested shea from women-run co-ops in Burkina Faso and Ghana, providing not only fair prices but also educational and financial resources to their communities via its philanthropic foundation.

This month, more eco-friendly packaging has been introduced, too - the hand cream tube is made from 95% recycled aluminium, while the body cream tub, made from 100% recycled plastic, is now refillable.

All of which means you can give a little TLC to the planet and its people, as well as your skin.

Shea Butter Hand Cream, £8 for 30ml, and Ultra Rich Body Cream, £35 for 200ml/£39 for a refill, at L’Occitane, Rose Crescent, Cambridge; arc, Bury St Edmunds; and uk.loccitane.com

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