January is typically a month when we are excited to tackle big goals like decluttering our house, starting a new fitness regime or a new diet. The overindulgence of the holidays leads us to a place of excess and we desire a clean slate.
For the Simple Life Project, knowing my typical January mood and energy level, I knew that self-care would be the right focus for me as I started the year. December is a big month for most people, and even bigger for our family. Three of our four members celebrate birthdays in that month (my husband and daughter on the same day right after Christmas!) and our wedding anniversary lands in there as well. We are lucky to have all of our family members in the same city as us, which makes for lots of gatherings to celebrate throughout the month. By the end, we are really ready for simpler days, and focusing on our own health and needs.
I have found that January can be a difficult month for me. It's very cold, there isn't much daylight, and I tend to feel overwhelmed by the resolutions I set for myself, because, inevitably, there are too many of them to do all of them well. So this month, my sole focus is to add rituals to my day that feed my body, mind and spirit.
My self-care rituals this year have included weekly Yoga Nidra meditation classes, monthly-ish bookclub meetings, and girls' nights out whenever we can fit them in. Although all of these fill my bucket, they are all sporadic (with the exception of my weekly class) and when things get busy, they fall by the wayside.
I am making this list of self-care rituals for me, as much as for you, and I will be posting it in my house to remind me to do them each day. All of them take less than 5 minutes, can be completed before 9am (if you have early risers like me) and will give you the energy to face the rest of the day. While I would like to start the day with a longer yoga practice, or quiet writing time, it is not for this season of my life (unless I want to wake quite early) and rather than lament the age and waking times of my kids, I know I can practice all of these easily within our normal morning routines.
1. Wake with gratitude - I have a gratitude practice before I go to sleep, but waking up with gratitude is something I hope to remember to do more often. Many days, I am awoken by little feet padding into my room at an hour that seems too early, and I enter into scarcity mode immediately by lamenting how little sleep I got. Waking with gratitude for my warm bed, my happy healthy kids, the birds in our backyard, the hot water coming from the shower. Remembering that I am truly lucky to live this life every day.
2. Make your bed - If your bedroom is anything like mine, your bed takes up the majority of the space in the room, and by making it, the whole room looks tidy and inviting. There is something so nice about entering my room throughout the day and seeing my made bed. In The Happiness Project, Gretchen Rubin talks about how outer orders contributes to inner calm, and I find that to be so true. Having my bedroom in order makes it feel much more like a refuge for me at the end of the day.
3. Eat and drink with presence - Holding my coffee or tea cup with both hands, I enjoy the quiet moment as I drink, looking outside my window, either at the dark gardens covered with snow, or the early morning light waking the chickadees, bluejays, and northern flickers and bringing them to our birdfeeders. If you aren't a coffee/tea/hot drink lover, eat your breakfast with mindfulness and presence. Take the time to sit and savour each bite, resting your spoon or fork on the table between bites. Mindful Eating is something I will focus on this month instead of a big diet overhaul.
4. Turn on some music - Having music playing as I prepare breakfast, clean up and prepare for the day sets a happy tone for me and for my kids. They love to request their favourite songs, and it's been good practice in taking turns, and enjoying other people's tastes as they listen to the music my husband and I like. Bonus: most of their favourites are now ones we introduced them to :)
5. Light a candle or diffuse some essential oils - My current favourite candle is Flora by Woodlot, which I picked up from a local store this fall. It feels so luxurious to have such a beautiful gentle scent filling my home, and because scent is such a powerful reminder, it has a instant calming effect. I also like to diffuse lavender essential oil on our main floor as a fresh, calming scent to start the day.
What morning rituals do you find set the right tone for your day?