January can be a tricky time of year, can’t it? It starts off so dark and it’s often pretty gloomy, and for me, given that it’s my birthday month, it’s a time when celebrations come to an end until late in the year. It’s full of expectations and good intentions and you’re always meant to get off on the right foot, because it’s the start of something new.
It can be pretty overwhelming. The combination of the pressure to be your best self, and the outside world feeling kind of bleak can really hit home. I don’t think it’s unusual to struggle in January, and I’ve certainly had my difficult days this month, favouring days indoors over brisk walks in the cool air, and at times I’ve felt down because of it.
However, I’ve also been sure to take small actions that I know will make me feel better. No one is going to look after me, but me, so I’ve made it a priority this month and have focused on some of the things that are good for me.
I’ve been patient with myself, and that’s been a gift. Letting myself have those lazy days, letting myself feel down, letting myself stress and moan about everything and nothing. I’ve allowed myself that time, I’ve been kind to myself during it, and I’ve know that I’ll come out of the other side, if I just have the patience to let myself get there.
I’ve been trying to plan. I realised that a lot of my stress came from having so many things to do and not knowing where to start. To be productive I felt like I just had to get on and do, but in doing so I found that not all that much got done. More recently, I’ve allowed myself the time to plan. I took a few hours one afternoon last week to go through everything that I could possibly think of, for work, my blog, my knitting, my house, myself. I committed time to organising lists, and scheduling tasks, and I’ve already been so much more productive for it.
I’ve been meditating almost every day. It’s something that I’ve worked into my morning routine, but I’ve also been managing to make time for it later in the day when my mornings are too busy, or too lazy, to do it first thing. It’s difficult to say how much of an impact meditation has had on me, because I’ve got to that stage where my current state is normal, so all of the benefits I’ve experienced don’t feel new anymore and are therefore harder to pinpoint. I do know that I’m more easygoing, I’m more peaceful within myself and I’m subconsciously putting into practice a lot of the lessons that meditation has taught me. If you’re interested, I use the calm app, and I love it.
I’ve been eating more vegetables, and trying to get into the habit of snacking. It’s an aim of mine to be more intuitive about the way that I eat, and learn which foods make me feel good, physically and mentally. Eating more vegetables definitely falls into that category, and it’s something that Sam and I have made a conscious effort to do throughout January. Through listening more to my body, I’ve learnt that hunger starts to express itself through headaches and a lack of concentration, just before lunchtime, so I’ve been trying to remember to add in a morning snack to help see me through. Satsumas and trail mix have proven to be good companions so far.
I’ve been tracking my water intake. It doesn’t always encourage me to drink the recommended daily amount, but it has provided me with a frame of reference, which again helps to understand why I sometimes might not be feeling my best. There’s no doubt about it, drinking enough water has an apparent affect on how I feel, and it’s amazing to see that in action.
I’ve been spending a lot of time reading. Usually, knitting it my go-to down-time activity and my first port of call for evenings in, but this month reading has been more of a fixture. I’ve got a goal to read 30 books this year, but I don’t think that’s why I’m picking them up. I’ve got to the stage, having encouraged myself to read more for the past two years, that reading is really one of the most fulfilling and enjoyable things for me to do. It’s no longer a case of dedicated reading time to progress towards a goal, but instead a natural desire to turn the next page, and the next, and the next, and that’s wonderful.
I talk a lot about how important I believe it is to be kind to yourself, to be loving and to do what you need to, to look after yourself at a given time. I’m glad to be putting that into practice, and I hope I continue to do so.
How have you been looking after yourself in January? Is there anything that you’d like to make the time to do in February? I’d love to know!