The idea of starting the (Gregorian) calendar new year off with vim and vigor never really made sense to me. Didn’t we just celebrate the start of winter on the longest night of the year a couple of weeks ago? Did I somehow lose track of time and miss the “a hah” moment between the holidays and January 1st where I gain full clarity on all of my goals and aspirations for the next 12 months?
Even if you’ve taken the pressure off of new year’s resolutions, you’re likely taking in some kind of messaging about thinking ahead, of planning and taking action on becoming a “better you.” I’ve always liked the idea of setting intentions rather than goals, but even that can come with pressure to decide on an energetic theme for the year before you may be ready.
For the highly sensitive person, you are even more attuned to your environment and the subtle shifts of the seasons. You’re also more available to taking in and on the energetic frequencies of pressured and action-oriented messaging that shows up this time of year.
I’d like to propose something a little different.
What if we gave ourselves full permission to show up exactly as we are, even and especially if that means our messy and uncertain selves? What if we allowed ourselves to lean into the invitation to rest with the rest of the natural world?
Think about it: you’ve just survived another full year. 2023 was no joke. The world is hurting. You may be hurting. Feeling exhausted after another holiday season, perhaps dreading the months of cold and dark to come (although I will remind you – it’s starting to get a little lighter each day, even if it seems imperceptible).
Let’s take a cue from nature and perhaps approach this time of year with some of her wisdom:
Lean into rest and stillness
The animals are doing it. So are the trees and plants. The vibrant leaves of fall are long gone and are now in the stage of decay, necessary for the rebirth and renewal of life that occurs in the spring.
What might it look like to invite more rest into your life? Where can you bring in a little more softness? This might look like taking time out to mindfully brew a cup of tea, get cozy under a weighted blanket, or allow yourself to turn down plans and have a quiet night in without any guilt.
From a place of stillness and rest, we create more spaciousness for listening to what’s stirring within us, as well as what feels stagnant and stale. What is ready for composting? What is longing to be seen and expressed?
It may be helpful to grab a journal and do some writing as you engage in some gentle self-reflection.
If you have a pet, you might notice that they are drawn to the warmest spaces this time of year, whether that’s the heater or fireplace or your lap. What feels warm to you? This can be physically (putting on your thickest socks and slippers) or emotionally (inviting in moments of gratitude, wonder and awe).
Easier said than done in our fast-paced world, this actually can take a lot of fortitude and willingness to sit with uncertainty. It may not come easy to the more anxious amongst us.
I like to think of slowing down as a practice, even scheduling in “slow” days or taking five minutes to close my eyes and notice my breath as well as whatever might be going on in my mind and body. I might even intentionally walk a little slower than my naturally faster pace.
When we slow down and allow for rest and quiet, we take the time needed to connect or reconnect with our inner compass, our root systems. This opens up space for our heart’s desires to emerge without pressure or because someone told us that we have to name them right now.
I wish you a very gentle, spacious start to your new year. If you’re feeling more frayed and frazzled than easeful and connected, working with a therapist who specializes in helping hard-working and sensitive souls move from anxious overthinking to spacious exploration might help you on the path. Learn more about my approach and schedule a free consultation here.