Most Januaries start with me fighting my husband tooth-and-nail to keep our holiday decorations up. I feel like Cinderella at the ball, not wanting to leave the party, but knowing that even if I don’t, it will end, all the same. I always think that if I can keep the decorations up, I won’t have to go through the post-party letdown. I have yet to test this theory because our dying Christmas tree usually makes the decision for us.
This year, I thought instead of mourning the holidays, why not make January a month for celebration? Since the holiday season is so much about celebrating and connecting with others, I decided to make January a time to celebrate and re-connect with myself. I’m going to look ahead to the new year and ask what my intentions are for me. Do I want to be better at needlepoint (good luck!), do I want to be bolder, do I want to be more flexible? By attending to yourself, you can survive the post-holiday month so much better. Here’s a list of ways I’m investing in myself this New Year, see if there’s one you’d want to try too!
1. Doing Something That Scares You (But Is Actually Safe)
Ok, hear me out. One of my absolute favorite feelings is the one you get when you do something that feels dangerous but is usually safe. Like the time I dyed most of my dark brown hair blonde or went on a zipline tour.
I am not advocating for doing something that will make you anxious, just something that jolts your system. One year for my birthday, I went sky-diving. It made me so ready to take on the next day the next week, the next year because, hey,I just jumped out of a plane. Anything will be easier after that, right?
If you’re not ready to hop out of a plane, the Polar Plunge is an even safer opportunity to recharge your body and mind. This year, they’ve gone virtual, which is even better. You get to decide your threshold level, whether it’s rolling around in the snow in your bathing suit or an icy shower in the comfort of your own home (consider getting your kids involved too, so many participated in the ice bucket challenge a few years back).
And you get to raise money for good causes, to boot. Most cities have a Polar Plunge going on, so if you want to support a local organization, do a quick Google search to find your town’s version.
2. Trying a 30-Day Yoga Journey
If you have yet to be introduced to Yoga with Adriene, you need to have a serious conversation with all of your friends about who dropped the ball on recommending it. When you’re done doing that, pull on your stretchiest pants (I’m always wearing mine) and get started. Adriene is a wonderful woman based out of Austin, TX who has a free YouTube channel for yoga practitioners of every level.
At first, I was a little skeptical because 1) some of my previous yoga experiences had been unpleasantly competition-driven, and 2) I wondered whether a white woman would be teaching the spiritual aspect of yoga I love. But with her first set of instructions, “Let’s find a comfortable seat,” I was hooked.
Adriene approaches yoga from a “find what feels good” attitude and is constantly reconnecting your breath, body, and mind throughout the practice. She believes that all bodies are yoga bodies. She even keeps her YouTube channel of over 500 videos free because she believes in accessibility! Every January, she does a 30-day yoga journey that gets you firmly grounded in your body, keeping you celebrating yourself for 30 days straight.
3. Visiting a Cabin in the Woods
No, I do not mean the terrifying and hilarious movie by Joss Whedon. I do mean that 2020 was a hard year and opportunities to travel were severely cut down. It didn’t seem like a big deal at the beginning of the pandemic, because I was hanging out at home anyway. But then as the pandemic kept going, I realized that the reason staycations don’t work for me is that I end up doing a lot of work on the house or hopping on my work emails so it never really feels like a getaway. Because traveling seemed so stressful though, I couldn’t figure out what to do.
We didn’t bring our laptops and spent the weekend playing games and eating cheese curds.
My husband and I finally went camping in the fall, and it was so blissful to be in the woods. It was a lot of work though and requires weather to comply to some degree. So as the winter started gearing up, we wondered how we were going to give ourselves any breaks and still feel safe. A small house rental fits that bill. We recently drove up to Door County in Wisconsin for a weekend, driving up the coastal byway (the Midwest has coasts, I swear!). We saw some beautiful views and walked new paths beyond the ones in our own neighborhood. We didn’t bring our laptops and spent the weekend playing games and eating cheese curds. We each took a few walks on our own with the dog, and it was the first time this whole pandemic I felt actually relaxed. It brought my mood up significantly and made me feel more ready to meet the week ahead.
4. Learning Something New
I never thought I would say this out loud, but recently I found myself missing school. I remember after turning in my master’s thesis, I almost cartwheeled down the sidewalk, thrilled to be free of academic reading and essays that require 30 million sources, etc. I thought I’d never look back.
And I’m not exactly looking back. I don’t have time to necessarily join a class at a local spot, but I do really love learning new things. It feels so satisfying, especially because I get to pick the things I study now. So when thinking about ways to invest in me, I thought about picking a new topic to learn about.
I’m not going to be an expert by the end, but I get to discover new passions and remind myself I am more than my job and my relationships.
I have started Spanish, Hindi, Mandarin, and Japanese using Duolingo. YouTube and TikTok have taught me so much about dancing and makeup. I’ve been watching a docu-series on lost recipes in India. It can really take on whatever form works for you. I’m not going to be an expert by the end, but I get to discover new passions and remind myself I am more than my job and my relationships.
5. Indulging in an At-Home Spa Treatment
You might be asking who has time for this, and I get it. Trying to do a whole day of spa treatments would be tough to pull off both in time and ability. Waxing my own eyebrows, no thank you! But I do love (and have the basic skills) to do an at-home manicure.
My husband knows as soon as the manicure kit is pulled out, I can’t hear anything being said to me unless it’s overhearing a rom-com I love. Until that quick dry polish is set, there’s no reaching me.
Talk to your partner and see if they can spare you for one to two hours, lock yourself in your bathroom or your bedroom, and give yourself the time it takes to do one nice thing for yourself. I promise it’s not time wasted.
I get it, it’s hard to prioritize yourself. Last year, I gave myself two at-home manicures all year. But the second I sat down to do it, I started to feel like myself again. I am planning on trying to do something once a week. If that feels out of reach for you, start with one treatment. It can be anything. A body scrub you never let yourself use, putting on a full face of makeup just because, anything that feels like pampering. Because you are reason enough to celebrate.
January is a strange time of year. Daylight is on its way back up, but you still can’t feel it yet, so it just feels like short dark days. There are no major breaks coming up or holidays to look forward to and it has the audacity to have 31 days on top of it all. This year, though, let’s try to take back the joy and take back the month.
What are you doing to stave off the post-holiday letdown? Share it with us!