Despite its gloominess, I love January.

It is a long, slow month. And it’s a time when we naturally feel more inclined to hibernate than get out there and make things happen.

Many people resent how it seems to drag out and can’t wait until February arrives and life restarts. What I’ve noticed in recent years, is that once February hits, the year takes off like a rocket and we’re all chasing our tails trying to meet this and that deadline.

And before we know it, we’re closing out another year, wondering where the time went and feeling exhausted.

My response over the last two years was to embrace the slowness of January. Recognizing that I actually wanted to be low-key during this month, I decided to align with that rather than fight against it.

Instead of trying to muster all my enthusiasm to enter a state of ‘doing’, I just allow myself to relax into ‘being’. Being whatever feels right to me, day-to-day. Whatever my body and mind are craving. Some days that might actually be ‘doing’ something productive. Other days will call for more rest.

I do spend January planning for the year ahead, and getting excited about different projects. And from that place of excitement, I’m easily motivated to begin working towards them. But without the pressure of having to be ready to go as soon as January is out. Taking my time to tease things out, make tweaks and adjustments as new insights drop in.

Basically, I release myself from the ‘shoulds’ and embrace the ‘coulds’ instead.

In previous years, I would have been gung-ho from January 2nd working flat out all day every day. No naps, no mid-day walks – just all day long in front of a screen and then exhausted and numbing out in the evenings. And setting a pattern to be repeated for the rest of the year.

By feeling my way through January, I now come through the month feeling more rested and ready for the new year that awaits. Ready for the rocket that will launch in February, whether I like it or not.

And as a bonus, I have also been able to keep that thread of self-care all through the year, weaving it through my daily and weekly practices. I never consciously set the intention to join the Self-Care-Sunday movement, but I’ve naturally developed that rhythm for myself.

As a meditation teacher, I’ve had a morning ritual that I treat as a sacred practice on a daily basis for over a decade. But now, on Sunday mornings, I go deeper and longer with that. And it sets me up for the week, as much as my daily practice sets me up for the day.

And my self-care January sets me up for the year.

It’s normal and natural, when a new year lands, to have hopes and dreams. And in 2022 we’re all hoping for an improvement from the last two years. But those years have shown us very clearly, if we didn’t know it before, there is so much that happens in our world that we can’t control.

In difficult circumstances that we have to accept and deal with, the best we can do is look after our health and wellbeing. This puts us in the optimal state to cope with whatever arises. And that means taking care of our inner state of mind as much as it means getting physically strong and healthy.

Both of these aspects are important to self-care. And we each need to figure out how to craft self-care regimes that work for us individually. There are no one-size-fits-all solutions, despite the promises of many of the programs that are marketed to us every January.

Rather than getting carried away with all the ‘new year, new you’ hype – and signing up for expensive membership programs – spend January figuring out what that could look like in your life. Plan for small ways in which you can integrate it on a daily and weekly basis. Little and often is better than an occasional deep dive with no follow-through.

Carve out space for you, for those practices and activities you identify that will support you in the coming year.

And call it sacred space.

Because that’s precisely what it will become if you give yourself this time regularly. Sacred space for you, and regular self-care will be the very best resolutions you can set yourself this or any other year.

You may also be interested in:

Why I set new year intentions in February, not January.

Why self-care needs to be our top New Year Resolution, and how to do it right.

A simple meditation practice to start the new year.


Janet McCracken · 2nd January 2022 at 10:11 pm

Your writing about a slow January resonates with me Hilda. I read a post earlier today, by a woman on Instagram. She maintains her values every day by attempting to live by them positively, rather than set new years resolutions. This made more sense to me and when Sarah-Jane asked on the beach today about writing new year’s resolutions, we chatted about the things we wanted to work towards steadily, rather than making a big noise about brand new ideas for 2022.
January has always been a poignant month for me every year. My mother’s birthday is 11th January and her mother and father in law died on and close to her birthday so it was a month when she felt sad. In 1998 my mum died on 31st January. With my father having died 2 years previously in early December these two months are very personal and self reflective for me. The weather, darkness, winter solstice are very important to me as I feel very connected to my inner self. I had to learn to sit within these 2 months on certain days and just observe my memories and my intuition. Whilst preparing for Christmas on other days.
Here’s to a slow January.
Much love and light Hilda.

    HildaCarroll · 3rd January 2022 at 11:59 am

    Thank you for sharing Jan. So many people experience lots of sadness around this time of year and the societal expectation is to be on a high and full of celebratory energy. It does make much more sense, I think, to be more reflective and slow during these months. Sending you hugs.

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