Gentle January and The Art of Doing Nothing

Jan 24, 2024

Ah January

It’s the first month of a New bright and shiny Year. It holds excitement and a whole lot of expectation. If like me you love a new beginning, a fresh start and all the hopes and dreams that can hold then January can feel exceptionally exciting and full of potential. New goals, new habits, new plans. While that can feel exciting it can also very quickly zap the energy right out of you.  Personally I have been deep in “Gentle January”.

Curious?  Read on…

I saw an Instagram post from Joy the Baker a couple years ago about “Gentle January”. I was immediately intrigued as I was in the midst of grief and completely exhausted after the holiday season. I held my long list of goals and habit changes and big intentions for the New Year tightly and remember feeling like a failure right out of the gate. My body and mind and spirit desperately needed rest but it was New Year New You time… right? I mean aren’t we supposed to hit the ground running at the beginning of January after the holiday “BREAK”? By the way the holiday season is NO Break, it can be so full and chaotic and stressful! I clung to this idea of Gentle January and fully embraced this new way to welcome a bright and shiny New Year.

My friend if you find yourself feeling overwhelmed, overly exhausted and just plain over it this month then read on. While the month of January is coming to a close, I have incorporated this theme of Gentle January into my daily, weekly and monthly habits and routines. Here are my top 5 ideas for you in no particular order.

 

1. Set an Intention for your Day

Sometimes our big goals get the best of us. While I love a goal and a plan of action, I have noticed that the simple act of setting an intention makes such a difference in my heart. I set a yearly intention and create an intention board that I see several times a day. However, setting a daily intention can bring ease to your day as well. Take a moment every morning and decide how you want to FEEL today. For instance…CALM, JOYFULL, DELIGHTED, PEACEFUL. Allow that heart led feeling to lead you in your day. If things start going sideways or stressful take a deep breath and connect back to your intention.

2. Write a Gratitude List

Take a couple minutes and write down 2 things you are grateful for. Don’t overcomplicate this. Tune into simple things that are going well, make you smile or bring you JOY. When you add this daily practice, you will begin to look for things to be grateful for. The first sip of coffee, the fresh air on your face when you let the dog out, the smell of your favorite candle, the sound of laughter. Small things, big things there is no wrong answer here. The only trick is to FEEL that gratitude, let yourself smile, FEEL the joy or contentment each item brings you as you write it down.

3. Pause

Do you find yourself running from the moment your feet hit the ground in the morning until your head hits the pillow at night? My friend you are worthy of rest! Set a timer every single day, maybe several times a day if you need to simply pause. Close your eyes and take 3 deep breaths. Inhale fully into your belly and allow a full exhale, empty all the air with a big sigh if that feels good to you. Then open your eyes and look around you. Notice your surroundings. Can you see the sky, watch a cloud, get some sun on your face? Can you readjust so you are more comfortable in your seat? Can you find something that makes you smile? Just for 1 minute, take a pause and breathe.

4. Savor your Meals

Have you ever eaten a meal and can’t remember what you ate or what it even tasted like…maybe in your car or quickly between patients, clients, work meetings? Our body digests better when we slow down and thoroughly chew each bite. I was once told by my naturopath “your stomach does not have teeth; it cannot chew up unchewed food”. GROSS! It’s no wonder we have gut issues these days! Leaky gut ring a bell?

Here is what I noticed when I made the change to actually chew my food…besides the gut health benefits. I began to ENJOY my meals again. I made better choices because I looked forward to each meal and my priority was to enjoy them. I felt better after every meal. Yes, it took some time, but it was time well spent in the course of my days. Start with drinking your morning beverage, coffee, tea, lemon water SLOWLY. Savor each sip. Enjoy it. Pretty soon you will find yourself doing this with all of your meals. Food is nourishment and fuel for our health AND can be fully savored and enjoyed. What a beautiful way to take good care of yourself.

5. Practice the Art of Doing NOTHING

As the Italians say…”Il dolce far niente.”  I am a fan of Eat Pray Love and this is a phrase that sticks with me.  When was the last time you INTENTIONALLY did nothing?  Sounds like a luxury but the truth is it is a beautiful way to ENJOY this one wild and precious life and take good care of ourselves.  We are after all human, we are not machines.  We are not meant to be productive 24/7.  It is absolutely okay to simply do nothing.

Take some time this week to wander without an agenda, see where you end up.  Maybe you will find yourself in an art gallery or stumbling upon a new trail or in a park or picking up a book you have been wanting to read.

Sit and notice, look around and see the views surrounding you.  Maybe you will find yourself watching a full gorgeous sunset or noticing clouds change and move above you.

Listen to the sounds and notice the scents in the air. Maybe you will discover a new coffee shop or bakery nearby or find yourself following the smell of saltwater to the beach.

My mom called this “puttering” and she did it often, doing nothing in particular and finding herself sewing or organizing or watching the water from her porch.  It is indeed an art and something I will continue to practice. Enjoy doing nothing without a goal in mind just being present in this one precious moment.  It is actually really FUN!

Until next time friends. I cherish you and I am celebrating you.

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Melissa Garcia is the founder of Roots to Wings Collective, a 300-hour certified yoga teacher, and an eternal optimist. Melissa holds space for connection, creativity, and celebration, through movement, meditation, energy work, and intentional rituals. She believes in magic and that there is no such thing as too much glitter!

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