January Challenge – Brighter Each Day
Did you know that over January we gain a whole hour of extra sunlight? As each day gets literally brighter, this month we’re challenging you to try something new each day to feel brighter too.
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Join us in beating the January blues
Scroll down to discover a free, evidence-based wellness activity for each day in January.
Alternatively, download or print the January Challenge pdf - ideal for keeping on your desk.
Ready for a science-backed, mood-boosting idea each day for the whole of January? Week one starts gently, with some visualisation, getting organised and trying out new healthy habits.
Sunday 1st - Visualise
Sunrise: 08:06 Sunset:16:01 💡 Visualise your best possible January. Studies show just 5 minutes of positive visualisation a day can make you more optimistic.
Monday 2nd - Fresh
Sunrise: 08:06 Sunset:16:02 💡 Freshen up your surroundings with clean sheets, flowers or just a whip around with the hoover.
Tuesday 3rd - Bright
Sunrise: 08:06 Sunset: 16:03 💡 Wear something colourful. A 2020 study found that pink was the colour most associated with joy.
Wednesday 4th - Boost
💡Boost your lymphatic circulation with body brushing or a massage. Unlike blood which circulates automatically, lymph fluid needs a little help with manual movement.
Thursday 5th - Sweat
Sunrise: 08:06 Sunset: 16:05 💡 Don’t overthink it: today move in any way that feels good. Exercise that gets you out of breath is the best free mood-booster there is.
Friday 6th - New
💡Try something new, whether it’s a recipe, a podcast or a route to work. Our brains love novelty, releasing a rush of dopamine in response. Citation: Nico Bunzeck, Emrah Düzel, Neuron, 2006
Saturday 7th - Unplug
Sunrise: 08:05 Sunset: 16:08 💡Go screen-free for a day. If you find yourself itching to check your phone out of habit, see if you can go for just five more minutes – the urge will pass.
By the second week of January, it's likely you're back to work, school or your normal routine. Mix things up with creative challenges, like painting to enhance your creativity, and develop habits for your long term health and wellbeing.
Sunday 8th - Time
Sunrise: 08:04 Sunset: 16:09 💡 Give yourself longer to get ready in the morning. Use the extra time to set your day up right, whether that’s indulging in a morning bath or doing some yoga.
Monday 9th - Stretch
Sunrise: 08:04 Sunset: 16:10 💡If you spend a lot of time sitting for work, a good stretch routine like an online yoga session will help protect your spine and back health.
Tuesday 10th - Paint
Sunrise: 08:03 Sunset: 16:12 💡Two words : Bob. Ross. His painting tutorials are sweet, easy and make you feel like the true artist that you already are.
Wednesday 11th - Grow
Sunrise: 08:03 Sunset: 16:13 💡Want more plants? For free? It’s time to propagate! Whether you do it from existing plants from your home or from friends, it’s a fun way to expand your plant collection.
Thursday 12th - Give
Sunrise: 08:02 Sunset: 16:15 💡Go out of your way for someone today. Studies show acts of kindness improve optimism, confidence and happiness. Citation: Biennial Scientific Report on Health, Happiness, Longevity, and Helping Others. Int J Pers Cent Med. 2014
Friday 13th - Strong
Sunrise: 08:01 Sunset: 16:16 💡Smart strength training can help keep back pain at bay by increasing the range of motion in your spine and building muscle. Try YouTube for free beginner bodyweight workouts. Citation: Dreisinger TE. Exercise in the management of chronic back pain. Ochsner J. 2014;14(1):101–107
Saturday 14th - Cosy
Sunrise: 08:01 Sunset: 16:18 💡Commit to cosyness: bring the duvet to the sofa, put a fireplace on the TV, play a peaceful soundtrack, and relax. Send us pics of your setup @urbanapp.
Congratulations, you've made it half-way through the challenge! Monday 16th January is known as Blue Monday; the day said to be the most depressing of the year. This week, be extra kind to yourself by practicing gratitude, scheduling self-care and engaging with all five senses. And look forward to more January challenges to come!
Sunday 15th - Calm
Sunrise: 08:00 Sunset: 16:19 💡Try square breathing for a quick dose of calm. Breathe in, hold, breathe out, hold - all for the count of 4 - visualising each as a line in a square.
Monday 16th - Yellow!
Sunrise: 07:59 Sunset: 16:21 💡Turn Blue Monday yellow with a simple gratitude exercise. List 10 things that give you pleasure for each of the five senses. Read it back and note how the best things in life are usually free.
Tuesday 17th - Quiet
Sunrise: 07:58 Sunset: 16:22 💡Struggling to find a moment’s peace? Schedule appointments in your calendar for downtime - even if it’s 10 minutes - to build in time to decompress.
Wednesday 18th - Scent
Sunrise: 07:57 Sunset: 16:24 💡Did you know that when you smell a fragrance you enjoy, your brain releases feel-good endorphins and serotonin? There’s no need for expensive candles: ground coffee, orange peel and fresh air on a park walk can all be mood boosters.
Thursday 19th - Soothe
Sunrise: 07:56 Sunset: 16:26 💡Between your Urban massage appointments, try some easy DIY massage. A foot massage is an easy place to start, or by applying pressure in gentle circular motions on your neck.
Friday 20th - Citrus
Sunrise: 07:55 Sunset: 16:27 💡 High levels of vitamin C in oranges, grapefruits, lemons and limes can help fight fatigue and depression. Not only that, but studies show smelling citrus for just 10 minutes can boost your mood. Citation: Matsumoto T, Asakura H, Hayashi T, J Altern Complement Med. 2014
Saturday 21st - Hydrate
Sunrise: 07:54 Sunset: 16:29 💡 Drink. More. Water. Studies suggest that anxiety and tension can worsen with dehydration, but also that mood improves with hydration. Aim for six to eight cups of fluid a day. Citation: Effects of changes in water intake on mood of high and low drinkers. PLoS One. 2014
If you find yourself losing motivation at this point in the January challenge, don't give up! This week it's all about taking time to rest, pamper and nourish to boost your overall sense of wellbeing.
Sunday 22nd - Rest
Sunrise: 07:53 Sunset: 16:31 💡We all know the basics of sleep hygiene, but sticking to good habits can be hard. Make tonight a fresh start by winding down a little earlier with gentle activities like reading, folding laundry or meditation.
Monday 23rd - Morning
Sunrise: 07:52 Sunset: 16:32 💡Try morning pages: filling three A4 pages with a stream of consciousness before you’ve checked your phone. Check out The Artist's Way by Julia Cameron for more.
Tuesday 24th - Journal
Sunrise: 07:51 Sunset: 16:34 💡Studies have shown that journaling helps reduce stress and clear your mind. If morning pages weren’t your thing, try a ‘worry window’ - 10 minutes to actively write down your worries to free yourself from worrying at other times. Stice E, Burton E, Bearman SK, Rohde P. Behav Res Ther. 2007
Wednesday 25th - Pamper
Sunrise: 07:49 Sunset: 16:36 💡Have a bath, give yourself a manicure or try a homemade face mask. Honey, avocado and coconut oil are all great store cupboard mask-makers.
Thursday 26th - Nourish
Sunrise: 07:48 Sunset: 16:38 💡Skip the desk lunch or the TV/phone screen dinner. Set the table for a nourishing meal, carving out physical space and time to properly enjoy it.
Friday 27th - Connect
Sunrise: 07:47 Sunset: 16:39 💡Call a friend, write a letter or chat with a neighbour. Use today to reconnect with someone you’ve not spoken to in a while
Saturday 28th - Water
Sunrise: 07:45 Sunset: 16:41 💡Spending time near water makes us feel calm. Luckily for Londoners, there’s plenty of lakes, reservoirs and even outdoor swimming pools to get your aqua fix. www.newscientist.com/article/mg25533950-700
You've completed your January challenge, congratulations! We hope we helped make your January that bit brighter, and that you've connected with yourself and your community in the process. Join us over on Instagram to share your progress and connect with other participants, and tag @urbanapp in your photos.
Sunday 29th - Local
Sunrise: 07:44 Sunset: 16:43 💡 Be prepared next time a friend’s visiting from out of town by curating a list of your favourite local places. Sharing it might inspire them to think local too, supporting independent businesses.
Monday 30th - Reflect
Sunrise: 07:42 Sunset: 16:45 💡Take time to reflect on what you’ve achieved this month. List your accomplishments, your challenges and any new habits you’ll carry on into February.
Tuesday 31st - Plan
Sunrise: 07:41 Sunset: 16:46 💡Congratulations! You made it through January. Give yourself another new challenge to look forward to by planning some spring and summer activities.
Other free creative challenges to try
64 Million Artists challenge
Founded by Jo Hunter, 64 Million Artists run an annual creative January challenge. With ideas designed by UK writers, artists and other creatives, a global community participates each year.
After what's often a booze-heavy December, Dry January is all about going alcohol-free. Join community groups participating all over the country via Alcohol Change.
With participants from over 220 countries, Veganuary is now a global phenomenon. Swap meat and dairy for plant-based food for 31 days and learn about the impacts on health, climate and animal welfare.
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