Of all the winter months, January unfolds like the deepest of slumbers. It closes in like the darkest part of the night; that utter blackness where dreams are found and then forgotten by morning. But despite it’s dark and sleepy facade, this month also brings us the gift of new beginnings. Explore what lies beneath us now and we will see there are the seeds of new life growing and unfolding deep under our feet.
Above ground a whole new year awaits us, months spread out like blank pages to fill and stories to be written. With this fresh start, there is often the pull to look backwards, to review ourselves. Linked to the ancient Roman God Janus, this is the month of duality. Janus has two faces, one looks forward and the other back. This time of year is a doorway opening and closing, a death and a re-birth. Where have we been, where are we going, what do we want and is there a fancy new diary or wall planner out there that will just sort all this out for me please?! This time around a whole new decade stretches out ahead, the promise of which has led many of us even deeper down into the rabbit hole of comparisons, retrospections and #tenyearphotochallenges.
In the past, January was never my favourite month. It would usually see me attempting to balance my high expectations of taking on a new year, while still half-asleep and more often than not, full up with cold. Having moved from Australia to Wales nearly seven years ago, the change in environment, weather and seasons was a difficult transition for me. Add to that being indoors far more than I was used to, with a toddler and newborn, I look back now and realise I really struggled with those first winters back in the UK. Our bodies will require more rest at this point of the year than any other. Daylight hours in the Northern Hemisphere are short and with less exposure to sunlight, we naturally have less energy. Studies have shown that some people also experience a drop in active serotonin levels during the winter months. Serotonin is one of the essential compounds in our body that transmits messages between nerve cells, helps to regulate our mood, appetite and social behavior, as well as our sleep patterns and memory functions. Expecting to suddenly change up a gear in mid-winter and charge into the year firing on all cylinders, when our minds and bodies are not ready for it, can often lead to a quick and spectacular burn-out.
Shiny new gym memberships, the latest diet craze, Facebook ads with fresh daily routines to ‘boost our productivity’, there are so many ‘healthy’ roads we can take, some of which could potentially yield positive results, but are we really being kind to ourselves or are we doing ourselves a disservice? I have been there, done that and rarely has any hastily thought out new regime helped or benefited me in the long term. These days I feel like taking more time to draw out the map, more time to linger a while in the January hush, before I choose to walk on.
In a season which encourages reflection, introspection and stillness, I believe there is so much space in this month for making our plans, generating our ideas and setting out our intentions slowly for the year ahead. The strongest trees have the deepest roots and I like to think of those initial daydreams, intentions or whatever name you choose to give them, as the first green shoots of those deep roots. They need time and care in order to grow and flourish. Expecting to bring these to immediate fruition, in the space of just a few weeks, is usually just a recipe for disappointment and frustration.
Darkness comes before the light, it is the place where our stories begin. Right now I feel like I need to just sit and brew in that darkness for a while, preferably under a duvet. I want January to be a welcoming old friend, not a shouty fitness instructor! I need time to mull over my ideas, time to stare out at the stark, bare trees and listen for those directional threads of thought that require a bit of stillness and patience. I want to weave a year that starts and ends with kindness to myself, a hot cup of tea and a solid connection to the shifts and rhythms of nature around me.
I began working with essential oils to strengthen my relationship to nature and to the seasons, this is a journey which has brought me a whole new perspective on this time of year. Instead of wanting to skip this dark time, I now relish the chance to slow down with it (okay apart from the freezing, sideways rain in your face, school runs – I am working on creating a positive relationship with those!) So below I have shared one of my favourite blends for January, with oils chosen to support positivity, encourage our dreaming and deepen the connection with our inner world.
A JANUARY ESSENTIAL OIL BLEND FOR DIFFUSING AT HOME.
Clary Sage Essential Oil – strengthens and inspires – 5 drops
Cedarwood Essential Oil – reinforces determination and steadies the mind – 5 drops
A Citrus Essential Oil of your choice – these oils are uplifting and clarifying – either Grapefruit, Lemon or Sweet Orange essential oil – 8 drops
Add the oils to your diffuser or into a bowl of hot water and inhale.