Could learning to love January help save the world?

Rebecca Megson-Smith returns with another article for January. A post all about embracing the solitude and darkness and hibernation of January. Not so much busy women more like embrace the silence and breathe.

Bec is the most incredible writer, AKA Ridley Writes, who has taught me how to write, coached me through writing my book The Money Guide to Transform Your Life, and generally coached me through life, for which I am forever grateful.

Over to Rebecca on the miserable month of January.

It ties in with our podcast episode from 2021 on busy women

It’s January – it’s miserable right?

It’s grim outside, cold and grey. We’re broke and broken by the excesses of December. The resolutions we made in those heady first few days of the month are either long forgotten or else also broken. Every damn thing feels like hard work, right? Right.

transition, decisions and change

But look again. It’s January. The days are short, the nights are long. Do we need a clearer invitation to get our pjs on and snuggle down, pack in the early nights? We’ve got no money to spend on going out and distracting ourselves with social activities – and neither has anyone else! No FOMO to worry about here. And look, nature is sleeping, is dreaming herself into spring. But not with a discontented longing to be in a brighter warmer elsewhere in the year. No, Nature gives herself entirely to the season.

We fight it though, for some reason, we fight the dark, the stillness. And we do this as a society. We live in a world powered by fossil fuels. We’re burning up the earth’s resources at a phenomenal rate, pushing past the point of no return climate wise.

And we’re burning ourselves out in the process, failing as we do to winter ourselves properly. Despite research showing us that being well rested increases our productivity, enhances our well-being, and promotes better physical and mental health, we’re still shockingly ready to forgo it. Whether at work or at home, women in particular tend to be forever on the go, forever busy.

I am definitely a recovering veteran of the ‘push on through’ school of thought. But, over the past few years I’ve learned an enormous amount from reading works such as Kate Northrup’s Do Less and Lisa Lister’s Code Red.

What these books remind me is that we are nature. We’re biological creatures, impacted by light and dark, by hot and cold. We’re subject to rhythms working both within and outside of us.  As women, we’ve lived in a world that for so long has encouraged us to ignore and hide our periods; to push on through whilst we menstruate, roller-skating our way into the sunshine. I wish as a younger woman there had been a Lisa Lister telling me that my periods were my superpower, or Kate Northrup helping me to understand that how I feel energetically changes throughout the month, that my cycle is more complex that just having a period or not having a period.

What I now know is that my cycle has its own seasons: Menstruation is energetically akin to winter; the follicular period, when my body prepares for the emergence of an egg, aligns with the spring; ovulation with summer, and the final part of the cycle, the luteal, when my body is clearing out before my next period is like my own internal autumn. This has been a powerful gamechanger. And for those of us who don’t have a menstrual cycle, we just need to look to the stars – or more specifically the moon, which equally each month moves through four seasons – from the New Moon (winter/menstruation), to the First Quarter (spring/follicular), to the Full Moon (summer, ovulation) and finally the Third Quarter (autumn/luteal).

Being able to listen to my body and respect it enough to respond to what the energy is telling me (usually ‘sit the hell down’, ‘go to bed’, or very simply, ‘STOP’) is definitely a work in progress. But this January in particular I have taken my cues from the season and begun doing just that.

I didn’t push on through with work or my tax return. I had a bath, or went to bed early and read a book. I didn’t tidy away from dinner but sat down with the kids, did a jigsaw or vegged out with popcorn and Encanto (we don’t talk about Bruno though…). And amazingly – the world didn’t fall apart. In fact the dishes still got cleared up, the tax return submitted, the work done – and all usually with a clearer head and a happier heart.

Nature is so much smarter than we are. I can’t help but wonder if we took our monthly cyclical need to winter, to rest and reflect, more seriously, wouldn’t we all benefit from that? Feel less exhausted and overwhelmed, stop making random purchasing decisions because we’re tired and grumpy and feel like we deserve something, anything? And maybe if we consumed less of our own energies, replacing greed with respect for our own needs, might we not start doing the same with other people, with the planet even?

And if that doesn’t make you love January more, this will – it’s almost over! Happy (nearly) Imbolc folks!

Rebecca Megson-Smith is a writer, writing coach and feminist, fuelled by books, tea and time by the sea. You can find her on her website, Instagram @ridleywrites and lurking on Twitter @ridleywrites

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