‘Tis the season notorious for indulgence – Christmas, New Year, parties, drinking, eating and generally not exercising as much (if at all) as one plans to. For many years, I knew that December would be the month with lots of work and social events, so I would plan to indulge to my heart’s content and then come January 1st I’d put myself on a strict, healthy regime where I’d cut out a number of foods from my diet and begin a new exercise programme in an effort to lose some weight and counteract the month of overdoing it.

Year after year I got tired of this mainly because by about mid-December I would feel awful in my own body from not making healthy choices and not exercising much – I’d be sluggish, over-tired and feel quite low despite the holiday cheer. Then in the new year I never kept up with what I had planned to do on my diet and exercise regime as it was a constant struggle and so contrasting to how I had been looking after myself in the month prior. Plus, January is one of the coldest, bleakest months in the northern hemisphere – a time when we naturally want to go inwards and retreat with lots of warm nourishment, not a time for pushing my body and depriving it of food.

Instead I started to focus more on honouring the season and what my body and mind craved naturally, which was lots of rest, warming and nourishing foods, as well as kindness and compassion towards myself. I found that by doing this I naturally started to feel better both physically and mentally. I was a much kinder person (to myself and others), less moody and exhausted and able to give more of myself to family, friends and work as I cared for myself in small achievable ways every day, without feeling the pressure of typical new year diets and expectations. I also carried on with many of the actions throughout the year instead of switching from one extreme way of living to another.

I will be sharing some of these tips and actions, which I hope will help you to start (and hopefully continue) your year in a more loving and compassionate way, in a 31-day self-care challenge starting on 1 January 2018.

The January month of self-care includes a daily tip, action or inspiration straight to your inbox. The actions included will be focused on nurturing and caring for yourself during January, so that you can start the year as you mean to go on.

To sign up please go to http://bit.ly/newyearselfcare.

Photo by Alisa Anton