One of my favourite benefits of Instagram is the community that I have managed to build of virtual friends (which sometimes turn into IRL friends). Jo Moseley, aka @healthyhappy50, is one of those wonderful people who I truly hope I’ll be able to meet in real life soon!
In this beautiful post, Jo shares her favourite ways to take care of herself in the New Year – with no diets or punishing exercise goals in sight. I highly recommend making a cuppa and settling down to read this post that feels like a warm hug to read.
Ah, a new year! The joy of a fresh start and onwards to spring!
Over the last few years however there has been a growing trend not to embrace the winter months, but to complain about, even dread them.
From diets to fitness plans, broken resolutions and the Christmas credit card bills, the January Blues has become a thing. It’s as if we have all entered a self fulfilling prophecy of doom and gloom.
Now aged 54, a working mother flying solo with two sons and keeping a watching brief on my Dad, I have discovered some special ways to block out this white noise and give myself a kinder and more nourishing start to a new year.
1) Looking to the light:
From the 21st December onwards, the days get longer. By the end of January, sunset is an hour later than on the winter’s solstice. I take a moment each day to notice this and remind myself how we are moving towards spring.
Inside we keep our fairy lights up all year – their twinkling joy welcoming me home after a day at the office.
2) Moving joyfully:
There is so much research showing how beneficial moving our bodies is for our mental and emotional wellbeing. So I follow what brings my body joy – a brisk walk in my lunch hour, a swim in the local pool, going to Parkrun on Saturday morning or zipping along on my bike. Sometimes simply stretching and wiggling my toes or following an online yoga video at home (I like Yoga with Adriene) is best. Listening to what my body needs to feel good.
This year I have signed up for RED January – a campaign in association with the charity Mind to do something active (anything you want!) each day to support your mental health. Hula hooping is on my list!
3) Fresh air:
Even if it’s only for a short walk I like to get outside each day, more at the weekends. Of course, if it’s raining and chilly, it can be tempting to stay indoors. Experience and scientific studies have taught me that just a few minutes outside, especially in the light, will clear my mind. It is a great opportunity to look out for snowdrops and notice the beautiful signs of spring peeking through.
4) Sweet dreams:
The quality of my day often depends on how well I have rested the night before. A good night’s sleep has become a priority with simple practices:
- Treating myself to a regular bedtime (10pm as often as possible)
- A quiet wind down: turning my ‘phone off at least half an hour before bed and keeping it charged outside my bedroom
- A soothing shower with a lovely fragranced soap
- Lavender on my pillow
- Reading a book or writing my journal before lights out
- As I go to sleep, I like to recall 3 things that have made me happy or for which I’m grateful that day
January is the time when the media bombards us with diets and it’s easy to get caught up in what friends and celebrities are suggesting. Again, I have learned to place my needs above this.
I love winter soups (carrot and coriander, spicy parsnip or beetroot and horseradish) and will make double so there are leftovers for lunch at work or the next evening. It’s like looking after the ‘tomorrow me’ knowing there is something delicious to come home to. A loaf of homemade soda bread and cheese or a tin of chickpeas or beans can turn a simple soup into a nourishing and comforting supper.
A new year is a great time to take stock of what brought joy the year before and let go of what didn’t. For me, that includes decluttering:
- my inbox and newsletters that I signed up for
- paperwork that is no longer required
- whom I follow on social media (it’s totally ok to mute a friend who is suddenly detailing her diet journey or 10 days to a six pack plan)
- my sock drawer
- the pile of books and magazines by my bed
- or even my spice cupboard.
Little things on a winter’s evening that add up to a feeling of lightness and simplicity over time.
7) Treats to look forward to:
December can be such a hectic time as we catch up with friends and family. Indeed, I remember one year being so busy I was at a Christmas party thinking, I just want to be at home in my pjs right now!
I make a point of saying no to some invitations to get together and having treats to look forward to in January and February. This might simply be:
- a walk with a friend
- meeting for tea & a chat
- a trip to the cinema or museum
- even just a nice long phone call with someone who lives a distance away
Winter evenings & Sunday afternoons are a wonderful time to curl up with a book, box set or podcast. Nourishing your mind with something new or escaping into a story and keeping the world at bay. I love books by Brene Brown, Elizabeth Gilbert, Tara Mohr, Glennon Doyle and Oprah’s ‘What I Know for Sure’ or ‘The Wisdom of Sundays: Life-Changing Insights and Inspirational Conversations’. A favourite podcast is Sara Tasker (@me_and_orla) Hashtag Authentic. The poetry of Cleo Wade is also another favourite.
9) Projects and Plans:
One of my favourite things to do on a Saturday afternoon is a vision board. Cutting up old magazines, cards or writing out inspiring quotes. Ideas, places, thoughts that I’d like to build my life around. It’s not a set of goals that I put myself under pressure to achieve but dreams to pull me to my future, which can change as I grow and develop my ideas.
The most important lesson I’ve learned over the years is to remind myself each day that I am enough, I have enough and I do enough. That within me I have absolutely everything I need to be happy and these small practices are important ways to look after myself. As I pull my scarf a little closer on a walk, I look to the snowdrops and the sky and say, ‘All is well, all will be well,’ embracing winter and looking forward to spring.