I wonder who came up with the idea of self-sacrifice in January? It makes no sense to me to purge ourselves of all pleasures during one of the coldest and darkest months of the year. Instead, I’ve always thought of January as a time to be especially kind to ourselves; as a month to nurture our mind, body and spirit equally.
Adopting a fresh start/new-year mentality doesn’t have to be about deprivation. I like to think of January as a month of cultivation – a month to try new things and to lean into and reinforce tried-and-tested strategies too.
So this month, I decided to give acupuncture a go. I’m very drawn to holistic practises and alternative therapies, so this ancient aspect of traditional Chinese medicine intrigued me. The idea that our bodies have pressure points connected to pathways which create an energy flow that influences the quality of our health is fascinating, and the concept that we can have an effect on that energy flow and improve our wellbeing even more so. I wasn’t phased by the human pin cushion nature of the treatment either – full disclosure, there are a lot of needles involved!
Honestly, I don’t think I’ve ever felt so rooted in the moment – in the here and now – as I did during this one-hour treatment. As a designer and retailer, my focus is always on each upcoming season. I’m constantly looking forward, which is great for my cashmere business, but on a personal level, it can feel as if life is running away from me. Do you ever feel this way? I know I need to carve out strategies for being in the present wherever possible, and acupuncture is proving to be a really useful tool.
Something else I’ve tried out this month is journaling. I was inspired by an interview with the author of Untamed, Glennon Doyle, on The Happy Place podcast with Fearne Cotton. Do you listen to it? It features a host of really interesting individuals. I bought Untamed – a New York Times bestseller – after listening to this particular episode, and I also bought the accompanying journal, Get Untamed: The Journal (How to Quit Pleasing and Start Living).
The brilliant thing about this journal is that it provides a framework for your thoughts and ideas by posing specific questions, featuring poignant quotes and including interesting exercises that nudge you forward. It can be difficult to feel inspired by a blank sheet of paper, so if you’ve been toying with the idea of journaling but don’t know how to start, this is a great motivator. I’m finding it really helpful, and you might too.
There are also a couple of failsafe strategies I rely on each January to set myself up for the new year ahead. Among them is hanging a great big wall planner in my office! It sounds like a fairly insignificant thing, but it’s a really great visual reminder of my goals for the year as well as my month-to-month objectives – it’s too easy to close a diary and forget about, or ignore, what you’ve written inside.
I also find when I’m looking at those targets regularly in black and white, they seem much less daunting than when they’re floating around in my head.
Here’s to a cosy (in cashmere!) and nurturing January.