It feels to us that there’s been a shift in the way folk approach the New Year. Perhaps it’s just our echo chamber but there seems to be less of a focus on resolutions, on giving up things, on improving your mind, body, or soul. Instead, it feels like there are more conversations acknowledging what a potentially tough time of year this can be for some of us and on being kind to ourselves and easing into the new year slowly rather than trying to hit the ground running. Whether you’ve had a challenging festive break, whether you suffer from seasonal affective disorder, whether you’re just not in a space to be radiating enthusiasm and energy when the natural world outside definitely isn’t, we’ve had a think about some more gentle ways to start the year for your consideration.
Slow Down and Hibernate
Whilst not all mammals hibernate during the winter, most do adapt their behaviour to reflect the seasons. They sleep more, they eat more, they generally move less. And although we’re obviously not encouraging everyone to over-eat and stop moving this month, we are suggesting that maybe it’s OK if you don’t move as much as you do in the warmer, brighter months. We know that exercise brings endorphins but there’s a balance to be had between keeping your mind and body healthy at this time of year. If the thought of going to the gym or getting on your bike after work or doing the kids bedtime fills you with dread as you longingly look at your cosy bed, perhaps skip this time, try again later in the week and don’t beat yourself up for it. (Of course, obviously if you are feeling super energetic, lean into that. Run your marathons, climb those peaks, swim in the sea!)
Get Outside (but maybe not for as long!)
We know that the outdoors isn’t quite as inviting at this time of year when it’s rather soggy and grey. But getting outside will still boost your endorphins so do try and get out a couple of times a week for a walk, meander, or ramble. The bonus of this time of year is that it’s much easier to catch a sunrise or sunset with them taking place at slightly more civilised hours than midsummer…and they’re still just as spectacular!
You don’t have to be good at something to enjoy it. If you like to draw, draw, if you like to sing, sing, if you like to write, write. Being creative does amazing things to your brain. Art therapist and psychologist Dr Cathy Malchiodi states that being creative can “increase positive emotions, lessen depressive symptoms, reduce stress, decrease anxiety, and even improve immune system functioning.” Don’t worry about the end product, just enjoy the process and tap into your creative self this year.
Love and laughter make us feel good, plain and simple. So, this winter make a conscious effort to seek out the company of your loved ones. Draw together with friends and family to laugh, eat, play, and spend time together. It doesn’t have to be expensive or high effort – just enjoy each other’s company – you’ll feel better for it!
So Happy New Year to you all out there, we wish you a coming year that is peaceful and full of joy, love, laughter, and of course, plenty of time outdoors!
Author: Hannah Durdin, Marketing Officer & Forest School Leader
Date: Friday 6th January 2023