How to embrace a gentle start to the year

Kat Nicholls
By Kat Nicholls,
updated on Jan 4, 2023

How to embrace a gentle start to the year

As many of us head back to normality after the festive break, how can we do so in a gentle and purposeful way?

How are you feeling this week? For those of us who had time off over the holidays, this week marks a return to work, a return to routine and a return to the ‘everyday’. The decorations are coming down, the last of the chocolate is dwindling and the Christmas films have been put to one side for another year.

For some, the New Year offers a clean slate. A sense of renewed energy and vigour as we run headfirst into new habits that promise to change us. Of course, if this works for you, that’s brilliant. Keep going and do what feels good.

For some of us however, that energy may be lacking. If you’re anything like me, winter so far has been peppered with illness and the idea of ‘New Year, new you’ feels a touch grating. Don’t get me wrong, I love the promise a new year holds and getting back into routine feels good… I’m just not in any rush this year. Instead, I want to embrace a gentler start to the year, and I suspect I’m not alone.

If this is resonating, here are a few ideas to enjoy a slower start to the year.

Add things back into your routine slowly

Initially, I had grand plans of jumping head first back into routine this week, including my exercise routine, but the Bank Holiday buffer at the start of the week gave me a moment to pause. I was still feeling quite tired, the days were (and still are) dark and wet, and I wasn’t quite ready to fully emerge from my Christmas cocoon. So instead, I’m inviting routine back in slowly.

I’m back to work for a shorter week this week (thanks to the aforementioned Bank Holiday) and my Pilates class starts back up this week. Other than that though, I’m letting other routines slide. Next week I’ll bring back other forms of exercise, and perhaps even that writing course I have my eye on.

The trick is to bring things back bit by bit. Think of it like acclimating yourself, dipping your toe in the water before diving in.

Audit your social feeds

The messaging at this time of year can be intense, right? I’ve already seen an influx of weight-loss ads and pushes to ‘try X and change your life!’. If you struggle with this, remember you can usually click on ads to say ‘not interested’ to train the algorithm. I also recently tried this from @alexlight_london on Instagram:

Now may also be a great time to audit your social media feeds. Are you following any accounts that make you feel bad? How can you bring more light and joy to your feeds? If you took a break over the festive break, perhaps extend it a little. If you didn’t take a break, now might be a nice time to take one.

Make space to dream and plan

If, like me, you do quite like the magic of a fresh start (even if you want to embrace it gently) then try to carve out some time for dreaming and planning about the year ahead. Whether you like to set resolutions, goals, intentions or a word of the year, spend some time musing over it.

Last year I made a digital vision board which I set as my desktop, to remind me of my hopes for the year ahead. I plan to do the same this year.

Learn more about making a vision board.

Tune into yourself

Advice that should seep into every month of the year, tuning into yourself and listening to what you need helps you identify what’s working, and what’s not. Try to follow the ebbs and flows of your energy, especially at work, incorporating a mix of brain-heavy tasks and lighter tasks to pick at. I saw a brilliant tip recently to keep your ‘out of office’ on for an extra day after time off, so you can tackle your inbox without pressure to respond straight away.

And remember, it’s still winter. For many of us that means cosy evenings under a blanket, blustery walks when we can and enjoying nourishing foods. Tuning into ourselves and the outside world can help us navigate what to prioritise right now, and that may be different to what society expects.

Seeking change and improvement isn’t a bad thing, as long as we’re able to approach it from a place of knowing we’re not broken. We don’t need fixing and as long as we can offer ourselves compassion here, we can find our way towards our dreams for the year ahead.

If you’re interested in some support as you navigate this year, whether in life or business, working with a coach could help. Learn more and find the right coach for you at Life Coach Directory.

Join 100,000+ subscribers

Stay in the loop with everything Happiful

We care about your data, read our privacy policy
Our Vision

We’re on a mission to create a healthier, happier, more sustainable society.