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Sod the resolutions

Try these joyful ways to start the new year instead

4 January 2024

January is here, and with it the usual ‘New-Year-New-You’ headlines and articles encouraging you to eat less and exercise more, spend less and meditate more. All of which, in our opinion, can result in an anxiety-inducing malaise and way too much pressure to stick to over-ambitious, shame-informed resolutions that are statistically destined to fail. 

We’ve got a better idea. 

Embrace joy, instead. Choose sweets, not sweat. Choose fun, not deprivation. Here are five joyful ways to embrace the new year.

The Royal Shakespeare Company’s production of Cowbois at the Royal Court
Book tickets 

Research shows that the anticipation of future positive events results in the pleasurable release of dopamine in the brain, which is associated with higher levels of well-being. So give yourself a few things to look forward to. 

The Royal Shakespeare Company’s production of Cowbois at the Royal Court (from 11 January, tickets from £15) has been nominated for two WhatsOnStage Awards for Best New Play and Best Costume Design, and promises to be a ‘rollicking queer Western like nothing you’ve seen before’. 

You could book seats for comedian Omid Djalili’s sure-to-sell-out show at Cadogan Hall (Friday, 1 March, £30), for an evening of profound hilarity and razor-sharp insights and the cortisol-lowering effects of a jolly good LOL. Further ahead, the ever-charming Michael Palin will be discussing his intrepid adventures on Thursday, 25 April. Or, if true crime blows your hair back, join Scottish detective David Swindle, who brought serial killer Peter Tobin to justice, for The Makings of a Murderer, a chilling criminology lecture on 22 April that will have you on the edge of your seat.

Eat cake and drink champagne 

While the rest of the world leans into January’s traditional period of self-flagellating asceticism, we suggest merrily going the other way and reserving a table for an indulgent afternoon tea, complete with Champagne or cocktails, at one of Chelsea’s landmark restaurants or hotels. 

Research shows that over 90% of New Year’s resolutions will be abandoned within just a few months, which can lead to feelings of failure. So, importantly, by choosing cake and joy, you’ll avoid the trap of making a resolution that you’re likely to abandon. 

Plus, 1 February is just as good a date to start on any aspirations for a healthier lifestyle. That way, you’ll avoid the throngs of prodigal gym members returning to the bench presses and spin studios of gyms and going through the motions of lunging and squatting in a probably doomed attempt at penance or redemption. 

Omakase experience at Beaverbrook Town House. Red Hibiscus 
Try a new experience 

Stepping out of your comfort zone has been shown to trigger a dopamine release in the brain, fuelling feelings of pleasure, satisfaction and motivation. It also stimulates neurogenesis – the creation of new neurons. So maybe it’s time to try the Omakase experience at Beaverbrook Town House

Omakase, which translates to ‘I will leave it up to you’, is the Japanese tradition of letting the chef choose your order for you. And, seated at the sushi bar, within sight of Hokusai’s The Great Wave off Kanagawa, you’ll watch as the sushi chef prepares every aspect of the 16-20 courses of your meal in a truly unique dining experience.

Or perhaps you are ready to give cryotherapy a spin with a course of chilling sessions at KXU that will help with quicker recovery from exercise, increase circulation, reduce joint aches and pains and boost metabolism.  

If you really insist on pursuing fitness in January, classes that challenge your mind as well as your body will strengthen your cognitive functioning and working memory as well as your abs. Try Barrecore for a ballet-inspired workout that will leave you pleasantly sore, Kobox for high-intensity cardio that involves trying new boxing moves, or Heartcore to tap into the slow-but-strenuous pilates burn. 

Invest in your growth

Give yourself both an anticipatory dopamine rush and the benefit of hearing from one of the world’s most sought-after organisational psychologists by reserving a seat on 18 January to see Adam Grant at Cadogan Hall. Grant has helped to motivate and inspire the likes of Bill Gates and Sheryl Sandberg, so you’re bound to leave with a few transformative nuggets. 

And if transformation is the goal, then a few sessions with Rapid Transformational Therapist Imane Dahmani will see you overcoming mental blocks and becoming your best self as she guides you through the process of letting go of what no longer serves you.

Red Hibiscus, Jo Malone 
Put yourself first 

You can equate this Oprah-approved practice to putting on your own mask first in the case of an emergency. After the whirl of the festive season, and all the pressure that comes with it, January can be a month to find joy in the quiet moments that are for you only. 

Say ‘no’ to the things you can’t face; go to bed anti-socially early; curl up with a juicy new book; go to a film on a rainy weekend afternoon; engage with the things that light you up – music, art, a bit of self-care… 

Or why not treat yourself to a new fragrance? Jo Malone London has just released a collection of three limited-edition rose-inspired fragrances (£86/50ml), from light and fresh to deep and decadent, so that you can mark the start of the year with an unforgettable new scent. And there’s a new addition to the Cologne Intense family: Red Hibiscus (£106/50ml), with notes of striking red hibiscus, complemented by a touch of jasmine sambac and the warmth of vanilla.

Then, looking further ahead, there are plenty of reasons to feel joyful about 2024. Here are all the best things to look forward to in Chelsea this year (it’s going to be a good one). 

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