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Letters from the Heart: 21 January 2023

I wonder if it is any coincidence that January has so many awareness days that really relate to our self-care.

Whilst Monday 16th was what is known as Blue Monday, this is countered with some much more positive days….

The 3rd Monday of January is widely considered to be the most depressing day of the year. (By the way, I’m not sure it is necessarily helpful to label a day like this as you then look for the bad things, but it has been called so).

The reason it is called this way is credit card bills start to show the enormity of Christmas, trousers are a little tighter, the weather is a bit cold and damp, New Year’s resolutions – if you made them – may be a dwindling memory by now and it feels like a long time until the next public holiday.

But also in January, we have a whole month dedicated to the Walk your Dog month. Of course dogs need walking 12 months of the year, but I actually love walking in January. Without the leaves on the trees you get an entirely different complexion on the landscape you are walking in. Yes it can be muddy and cold, but you can dress for and prepare for that and then embrace and be grateful for living in a part of the world that benefits from seasons!

Interestingly on 18 January we have Winnie the Pooh Day. Not necessarily directly related to self care, but there is so much wisdom in some of the quotes. One of my favourite being:

“You’re braver than you believe, stronger than you seem and smarter than you think.”

I also recently enjoyed a lovely pub lunch followed by a walk in the 100 Acre Wood with my great friend Michelle.

But Saturday has to be my favourite day in January. 21 January is National Hug Day. As someone with a dominant love language of physical touch, I feel this day was made for me! But that aside, there are a lot of proven benefits to a hug, particularly if the hug lasts a little longer than the average. 

To quote our friend Winnie the Pooh again, “A hug is always the right size.”

When people hug for 20 seconds or more, the feel-good hormone oxytocin is released which creates a stronger bond and connection between the huggers. Oxytocin has been shown to boost the immune system and reduce stress.

So, I believe January is far more than a hibernation month. It is actually a great time to bring your self care into alignment with what you need right now.

After all the excitement and craziness of the holiday season, it is possible that some of your routines went out of your focus.

With the emotional pressure of this time of year, now is the perfect time to check:

  • Are you moving enough (10k steps daily is a great target for most people)
  • Are you keeping connected to other people
  • Are you making sure to bring joy into your life regularly 
  • Are you building times of stillness and reflection into your daily routine
  • Are you nourishing your body (physically, emotionally & spiritually)
  • Are you getting the right amount of rest for your body and activity levels
  • Are you releasing stress from your body 

Now is a great time to build the habits we need to support ourselves now and into the future.