Leading up to the end of the year and even in this moment as we approach February, I’m sure you’ve seen tons of posts about intentions, goal setting and budgets and numbers. All the things we’re going to do and change this year, am I right?
I’m here to invite you to slow down, break away from the trending new year hype and move with the natural rhythm of the seasons instead. I’m calling this option “Gentle January”.
It has taken my entire life (I’m currently 44 years old) to understand how humans can embody the energy of the seasons.
The commercialization of January 1st as the optimal time to make a “fresh start” feels limiting. We can and are perfectly capable of starting over again with every inhale and exhale. You can choose to create a new habit or way of thinking right at this moment. You have the power to go for a walk to begin a new movement routing or eat a new vegetable if you are focused on your plan of eating right this second. There is no need to start on the first of the year, the first of the month or next Monday.
You see the majority of us, come January 1st, are recovering from some kind of hangover, whether it’s from sugar, alcohol or simply overstimulation + family dynamics. The holiday frenzy takes quite a lot of energy to navigate (even if you keep it simple) and you are likely gearing up to go back to work all while the days are short on sunlight and the temps are chilly.
Here’s an example. Think about the last time it rained where you live. Sadly for me it was ages ago but hopefully your memory is more accessible. Most people say they love a good rainy day where they can be cozy at home under a warm blanket and listen to the rain, or watch movies and read books. Some of us, especially with children, will look forward to jumping in the puddles, baking cookies or extending story cuddle time. Talk about a serious Hygge invitation!
But rarely would anyone suggest that a rainy day is an ideal time to pack-in a ton of to-dos, hit new targets and start new routines, especially if you live on the west coast.
On rainy days, birds stay in their nests and our natural instincts as humans aren’t much different. The sun is life, it gives us energy. When days are short and dark, we will be less likely to have a fire inside to begin new projects.
Instead of focusing on the perfect time to start and place restrictions on the best start day, wouldn’t it feel better to know that you can change your patterns at any time you choose?
I personally find it comforting to be less active during the winter and trust that my energy for new projects and beginnings will come around again as we head into spring. The energy of Summer is also a time to look forward to as a season of celebrations and staying up with the light of the sun.
Move With The Season
Quick ways you can start to move with the idea of “Gentle January” right now:
- Go to bed early, instead of scrolling and taking in unnatural blue light.
- Spend time outdoors, even if it’s only 5 min.
- Plan time to do nothing.
- Take a bath.
- Cancel non-urgent appointments.
- Say “no” to others and “yes” to you.
- Laugh, cry, scream- feel your feels unapologetically.
Seemingly simple self-care practices don’t come easy to everyone. I have a few simple aids I use to assist with my routines.
I often schedule time to step outdoors, even for a few minutes at a time. I set an alarm, then a timer, and step outside. This can look like me putting my bare feet on the earth for 5 min. Getting real sunlight on my skin is a huge helper.
For my meditation or breathwork healing practice, I always use an eye pillow to filter light pollution and bring awareness to the present moment.
Finally, for journaling I either “mind dump” or use prompts, depending on how I’m feeling.
Before starting any of these practices I find that simply lighting a candle or taking a sip of water sets the tone for doing The Work. Having an anchor like this in place lets my brain and body know that we’re transitioning from the current task to self-care work.
Reminder: It’s often the simple daily rituals vs. the once in a while grandiose gestures that support our well-being best. Consistency is what fills the self-care well.
If you’re feeling motivated to try a few new things, here are some suggested rituals that will uplift you + and your home’s energy:
- Try some rituals for releasing.
- Reconnect with your home with these simple 8 practices.
- Let go of items you don’t need, use, or align with your values. Explore this list of kitchen items that you probably aren’t using. Not sure about your values and what that means? Try this quiz to get more clear.
I’d love to hear how you’re feeling at the start of this new year and if this sounds more in line with how you’re currently living.