Combat your January Blues
Self-Care in the Season of January Blues
January has always been a funny one – the month so filled in equal measure with blind optimism for the blank slate of a new year ahead, and the shortest, darkest days of the year – cornering you into either a state of forced introspection as you burrow away from frosty evenings, or throw yourself unabashedly into a particularly damp January, defrosting from single digit temperatures with a glass (or 3) of red.
However with Blue Monday on our shoulders, I find myself reflecting more objectively on this unusual time of year. A time in which, in nature, the trees have cast away their layers to prepare for new growth in the spring, woodland creatures are tucked away in hibernation, protected from the elements in a state of rest and repair, and the birds have flown south in favour of warmer climes (save for the somewhat climate confused ring-necked parakeets inhabiting the silver birch in my garden).
With our easy access to artificial light and Starbucks, we city creatures have crafted every solution to thwart nature’s call for shorter days and a season of respite... but should we be taking note from our neighbours in nature? Speaking with loved ones during this time – anxiety is high, hours of sleep are low, and everyone’s noses are streaming with winter colds and 5-degree morning commutes.
This January I have actively experimented with listening to the natural rhythm of my body for the first time in my 25 years on this planet – and feel infinitely better for it. Saying no to FOMO and choosing to spend evenings reading, practicing yoga from the comfort of my own mat with a candle or two, and falling asleep by 9pm - energy is conserved, morale is high, and I find myself free of the shackles of winter anxiety that usually have a tight grasp on my wellbeing at this time of year.
So I invite you to perhaps introduce a couple of nights a week to truly tune into your body, away from city lights and stimulants - and to nourish it in a way Mother Nature might deem fit. I’ve included a few of my favourite rituals to combat the Blue Monday blues below – and a few heart opening yoga postures to help move a little stale energy through our limbs and free up our minds for a slightly more positive end of this bewildering month…
Yoga postures for some heart opening self-love
4 PART BREATH
Placing one hand on your heart, and one on your belly - breathe in for 4 seconds, hold for 4 seconds, exhale for 4 seconds, hold for 4 seconds, repeat until your mind has quietened.
THREAD THE NEEDLE
Begin on hands and knees in a table top position, and rooting down into one palm, lift the other arm towards the ceiling, inhaling and opening up through the chest, looking to the lifted fingertips. As you exhale, release the arm and thread it through the gap created under your rooted arm, resting your ear/ cheek on the earth, and feeling a stretch and twist through the side. Inhale and return to centre. Repeat several times, and then switch sides.
begin in a table-top position on hands and knees, and slowly walk the palms forward, dropping the chest and face to the earth, whilst keeping hips above knees. Rest the forehead on the earth and enjoy the opening through the chest, or to deepen, lift the chin to rest on the ground, and gaze forward between your extended arms.
HERO WITH OPEN SHOULDERS
Find a comfortable seat on your knees, feeling an stretch in the quads. Inhale and lift one arm towards the ceiling, releasing the other to your side. Bending your elbows, release the lifted arm behind your head, and reaching up with the lowered arm, interlace your fingers and feel an opening through the shoulders and chest. If you experience tightness in the shoulders, holding a t-shirt/ sweater between the hands instead of interlacing fingers creates a bit more space is a great option.
Lie on your back, knees bent with feet flat on the floor. With the help of your feet, shift your hips to one side. Drawing the knees into the chest, allow them to gently release to the opposite side – and extend arms into a T-position at your sides. Breathing deeply into the twist. Inhale to draw the knees back through centre, shift hips to the other side, and repeat.
begin seated on your knees, and either with knees together, or apart, lower your chest over your thighs, with arms extended in front or by your side, allowing your forehead to rest on the earth. If you are tight in the quads, popping a pillow between your heels and hips will create some more space and allow you to comfortably enter this posture. Breathe deeply here into the back of the ribcage and enjoy folding yourself into this nourishing posture of introspection and recovery.
- Put your phone in a drawer in a faraway corner of your home and engage with those around you, away from distraction and mindless scrolling.
- Pick up that book you promised yourself you’d finish by the end of 2018.
- Take a dog (preferably with permission) for a wintry walk at sunset – it has a particularly extraordinary glow this time of year, against a backdrop of tree skeletons. Nature is your greatest ally.
- Cook a hearty, nourishing meal for a friend – and enjoy warming up over candlelight and good conversation.
- Treat yourself to your favourite comfort food.. Vurger Co truffle mac & cheese anyone?!
- Take some quiet time for meditation and reflection, dropping all expectation of what meditation should look like. Sometimes meditation looks like 10 minutes of simply lying on the couch, breathing deeply with eyes closed and phone on airplane mode.
- Journal. Let your thoughts flow through you uncensored. In times that we allow ourselves a little breathing and thinking space – pressing issues and anxieties have a remarkable way of resolving themselves when we put pen to paper.
- Snuggle. Snuggle a friend, snuggle a partner, snuggle a cat, snuggle a tree. It’s good for the soul.
Guest Blogger: Morgan Masters @healthyhappyglow