I've been thinking,  Lifestyle,  Wellness

5 things I learned in January

The eagle eyed among you will notice that I didn’t publish any January goals. Well spotted. Goals were planned. Of course. But life took over.

I had a couple of cake orders just after Christmas. Then the winter lurgy struck with a “buy one get one free” migraine, and I didn’t leave the house for a week.

This week, I’m enjoying having a clear head and being able to leave the house without a box of Kleenex Balsam welded to my arm. I’m enjoying the bright winter sun, without hiding behind blackout blinds. I’m enjoying drinking frothy oat cappuccinos at my favourite coffee shop instead of hot ribena washed down with paracetamol.

January has been a game of 2 halves. And I’m much preferring the 2nd half.

So instead of goals (they’ll come later) I thought I’d share what I’ve learned from January.

1 New Year, Same You

There’s nothing magical about 1 January. You can dream dreams, make goals, change routines, have ambitions – starting on any day of the year. So why start in the middle of winter when it’s cold and dark, and motivation is far away? New Year’s “Resolutions” are never a good idea. We overcommit, we’ve over zealous, we’re unrealistic. 17 January has been designated “Ditch New Years Resolutions Day” so if you’re still going, you have above average sticking power.

New Year isn’t about “new you”. It’s just the old you with more jumpers. The old you was fine. You might just need a few tweeks here and there.

When you get to 40 something, you know yourself pretty well – for better or for worse. For me it’s more about knowing my personality, knowing how I tick, knowing how I function best – and planning the future within those boundaries. It doesn’t mean I won’t step out now and again, and surprise myself. I know the people I love to be around. I know the places and things that make me happy. So I’ll be doing more of those.

2 It’s ok to go slow

Ok. I’m officially declaring January the month of hibernation. Wikipedia defines it as “a state of inactivity characterised by low body temperature and heart rate, and most commonly occurs during winter months”. Hedgehogs and bears hibernate, trees and plants hibernate – they’ve got the right idea.

I do accept that it’s not actually possible for us to hide in a hole without food for a month. Although I feel like I may have eaten enough cheese and roast potatoes over Christmas to last me until March.

But how about this. January is only 4 weeks. Let’s just take it really slow. Keep the plans to a minimum. Be spontaneous. Enjoy lazy weekends, early nights, movie afternoons, long walks in the winter sun. Think of it as pressing “pause” on your brain. We’re so used to dashing about in 5th gear that it’ll take a few weeks to remember what 1st gear feels like, and slow our brain activity down.

And let’s have not guilt about it. Most things can wait. As long as everyone in your household is fed and watered, they’ll be fine.

3 Fresh air is everything

Sofa surfing is pretty enjoyable for a while, but your hat and scarf are calling, your boots are ready for some action, and the dog needs a run on the beach.

It’s pretty impossible to not feel cheered by a winter walk. A few circuits round the park, a stroll through the woods, a windswept jaunt along the beach, or a hike up your nearest mountain. Whatever takes your fancy.

Fresh air is a tonic for the brain. It’s true. A good walk is the best self care you can give yourself.

4 Try something new

Ok so my new thing really started last year, when I discovered the Audible app. Oh my goodness. My life is transformed. I have always loved stories, fairytales, a good whodunnit. But I’d quite forgotten how much I love the spoken word. A friend once told me I have a voice for storytelling. Maybe I have? But I’ve discovered a real love of audible books – at bedtime, in the car, sitting in airports. Pretty much anywhere. It’s the best value £7.99 that goes out of my bank every month.

5 Establish bedtime routines

The next best thing to hibernation is some serious sleeping. This includes a solid 8 hours, and additional naps when needed.

I’ve been working on my evening routine for a while. And when I say “working”, it’s really not work. I don’t go out much in the winter so “early to bed” is really quite an easy one for me. A relaxing TV evening with a episode of Vera or Death in Paradise. Soft lights and candles. A big glass of water will settle you better than wine. A hot bath with peppermint and eucalyptus bubbles and a refreshing cleanse and moisturise. A hot cup of tea in bed, a spritz of lavender pillow spray and a final few chapters of an Audible book in bed.

I sleep like a baby. Most nights. Do you?

Judith xx

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