There are times in life when keeping your distance from regular habits and responsibilities is good for you. The month of January is one of those times.
Think about it. After New Year’s Day, there isn’t much going on for the rest of the month. Hallmark starts ramping up for Valentine’s Day, and the only thing people can ask you as a conversation starter is “how were your holidays?” To which you are expected to respond with a laundry list the many trips to relatives and the gifts you opened on Christmas morning.
So I am declaring January Official Hibernation Month. It’s the perfect time of year to hide, get your bearings after running around like a crazy person for 6 weeks between Thanksgiving and New Year’s, and refocus — you know, evaluate how you spend your time and energy, that kind of thing.
January is cold. What better time of year to stay inside, sit in front of the fire (or heater) and contemplate life? Or watch Alias. (Though, for the record, watching Alias does sometimes qualify as contemplating life, and I have a blog post coming up to prove it.) Not only is the weather cold, but also there must be something in the air — or maybe it’s the after-holiday spirit — that makes people cold. As in mean. They are grumpy. I am grumpy. We’re all grumpy after the holidays. Why is that? Probably because we’ve all eaten too much and gained weight. We’ve all spent too much and lost money. We’ve all had some kind of emotional and dramatic encounter with family regarding whether or not to exchange gifts or why we won’t be at Christmas dinner. Isn’t it best, then, to just take a break, keep your distance, and recoup?
January is dark. Coldness alone is enough reason to avoid the outdoors. But add darkness on top of that — well, it’s just a sad month. (No offense to those who have birthdays in January. There are many, I know. But you have a reason to celebrate and be cheery during this dreary month. The rest of us are not so lucky.) Darkness is sad because you can’t see very well. And when you can’t see very well, you might get lost. And getting lost is no fun. I guess it can be fun, depending on whether or not you intended to get lost. But still. A new year symbolically marks a fresh start (no matter how hard we try, there is no getting around this. It’s just the way our culture works.), and who wants to be at the beginning of a fresh start not knowing where you’re going? Instead of trying to feel your way through the dark, hands in front, groping around, just hibernate. Take a break from trying to figure things out. Rest up so that you can pace yourself through the rest of the year. Seems like so many people obsess about starting the year off with a bang, they jump off the line into a sprint. But that only works with short-distance races. You don’t have to have everything accomplished by February 1, and you don’t have to have everything figured out by then, either. Hibernate for a month. Everything will be OK. Really.
January is blue. When compared to the hoopla of holiday parties, holiday shopping, holiday meals, holiday services, holiday shows, holiday, holiday, holiday around every corner for 6 weeks straight, it’s easy to feel down and alone in January. In November and December we spend all our energy making sure to see all the friends and family who we probably see only once a year. Our love cup gets filled to the brim, and even spills over the top. Then when January comes and there’s way less to do, it’s easy to mope about having no social life or nothing to do because there are less reasons to be out and about around people. Instead of moping, why not embrace the down time? Sit at home, or at a cafe, or at a coworking space and evaluate whether running around to keep up with all the other crazy people has any true merit. Make some space for yourself, away from others to think about what you can do differently this year. Would you do anything differently, or are you pleased with the way your holiday season unfolded? What about the rest of the year?
Here’s a personal example: I didn’t publish on the blog in January. When I don’t post it’s usually a rule of mine to not point out how long it’s been since my last post or to apologize for not posting. But to prove my point, I spent the month not posting to see what would happen. With the blog and with my own interest in blogging. A surprising thing happened: it worked. I got a few new subscribers, even without new posts. My traffic didn’t go down that much, even without new posts. And I have a renewed fervor for becoming an A-List Blogger. Yes, you heard read right, an A-List Blogger.
With that said, I’d like to ask for your help. As I’m in this process of reevaluation, I’d love some feedback on a few things that I’m thinking about. Would you mind taking 5 minutes to fill out this survey?
Traditionally most people try to cram this reflection into the month of December on top of all the other expectations surrounding the month. But that’s just adding stress on top of stress. Why do that to yourself? I say, screw that — bring on Official Hibernation Month!