New You? Screw you! 5 ways to make your January nourishing, not punishing.
Yes, of course, it is very tempting match December's energy of excess with an energy of success this month, but trying to squeeze an entirely new you out of the well-padded, hungover and exhausted you of yesteryear is, for most of us, a tad ambitious. It's cold, it's dark, our biological clocks are set to hibernation mode. Why fight nature? Make like a bear: curl up and rest. After a month of going out, entertaining, exchanging, January is the month for going inward, looking back, dreaming forward but staying put.
1. Touch base with yourself daily.
Hey! Hi! Happy New Year to you. And what a year the last one was... How are you? How are you really?
The large majority of us are more than skilled at skirting what is really going on - we are just as happy giving ourselves the rote 'fine' response as we are anyone else. But it's time to cut the crap and be specific. If meditation seems like too much of a commitment, then spend a minute each morning just checking in and naming your emotions. No 'great', 'fine', 'good', 'bad'. No judgement: no 'why'; no 'wherefore'; no 'woe is me'. Just the name. Or names*. A myriad of conflicting emotions? So be it. Be honest. And then finish off with a 'good to know' and crack on with your day.
2. Look back in gratitude.
Good at playing down our successes and accentuating your failures or disappointments? Well, this is an exercise in making them ALL achievements and let's add a dash of 'gratitude for the opportunity' as a cherry on top. It's hard, it's messy, it takes time - so give yourself a month to take stock instead of squeezing in a few pensive hours between seasonal cocktail parties and then rushing off down the road paved in good intentions.
If the mind boggles at how 'my other half/best friend/boss running off with my lover/cleaner/children while I was busy caring for my ailing parent/relative/dog' (delete as appropriate or fill in as needed) can be made into an achievement, try zooming right out and starting with the basics that we so often take for granted: #1 - I have survived 2018 and I am thankful that I am still alive.
Wahey! Congrats!! Sound the trumpet!!!
Now take it from there.
3. Listen to your body.
This is the time of year the trees pull all their sap from their extremes into their core. It is likely that your body wants to do the same, leaving you crouched, cross-legged and rubbing your fingertips to get some heat. I wager that after December's stress of excess, your body is unlikely to crave the stress nonetheless of daily high energy exercise, particularly if this is part of your 'never-before new you'. If you have the energy to hit the gym or go for a run then great, do it! But if your body is yearning for something gentler - an Ayurvedic massage; a good stretch; a bracing walk; an early night? - do that too. There is no point punishing yourself with a juice cleanse if your body has been used to processing 14,561 calories a day. Ease off gently. Let's make January the month of care, not consistency. If you feel like something different every day, allow yourself. After all the achievements and learnings of last year, it's ok to spoil yourself a little. And if that means a hot chocolate by the fireside or a glass of wine or two with a Sunday roast at the pub, go for it. Just do it mindfully and savour every bit of it.
4. Smell the roses.
Have a romance with yourself. Keep the fire going, the candles lit, the fairy lights to welcome you home. Buy flowers, cashmere socks, a good book. Let (all) your hair grow. Write your diary, watch 'guilty pleasure' films, cook yourself your favourite childhood meal. Have a PJ and duvet day. Plan your holidays. Enjoy. Appreciate. Breathe. And only then....
5. Feel into the future.
From that warm, grounded place you have rediscovered in the old you; the peaceful place; the quietly empowered place. Is a New You really necessary when the old you is not so bad after all? Oh look, here are the first snowdrops and crocuses. Maybe just a little tweaking: a weekly PT session and a yoga weekend; the 5/2 diet to allow for lattes; one goal for the year - a big one but achievable; a spring clean, haircut and a new power-bitch suit. Voilà - rested, relaxed and ready to take on the world. #JanFan
*Need some help finding words? Here is a link to a webpage that has a good spread: