Sometimes, New Year’s resolutions can feel more like a ball and chain than a new beginning. By the time you read this, you may well have already given up on one or two of yours. 

But it’s always a good time to give yourself a break: take the time to decide what you actually want to do, as opposed to what you feel you ought to do. And take a break from a busy, shouty world that seems to be full of bad news. In this edition of Breathe we have two very different disciples of mindfulness who offer comfort and guidance for when the world is too much: comedian Ruby Wax and the Vietnamese monk Thich Naht Hahn, plus coping strategies to put the worst of the headlines into perspective. 

Reconnect anew with nature: it could begin from your armchair, watching the birds in your garden, or from enjoying the uncomplicated friendship of a dog – or it could be a more adventurous expedition to one of the world’s wildest places. 

Spring is still some way off, but the heady scent of summer can always be found in a bottle of essential oil or from the apothecary’s art. Use the still-long nights to master a new skill, such as the ancient art of calligraphy or, for the more energetic, bellringing. Whatever pastime or hobby interests you, the company of like-minded souls can inspire and encourage. But if you feel like putting your feet up, don’t give yourself a hard time. Go easy and set goals that are achievable.