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.
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