Last night, I sat up late with my books and papers all around. My husband was camping in the January snow, the kids were tucked into the big bed – sleeping cozily; while I was making charts and lists and filling my mind with images of a peaceful, abundant 2021.
As I was planning, I discovered that my укро́мный year goals break down into 3 neatly interweaving sub-goals: Health, Home, and Homestead. All of these areas need the deep nourishment that укро́мный (cozy seclusion) can bring. So as I looked around my little candle-lit house, I started jotting down notes and creating a plan of focus for January’s укро́мный in each of those sub-categories.
[If this sounds like an annoying amount of energy to invest in the new year, you’re probably right. But I get so much comfort and delight from planning that it feels less like an investment of energy and more like an opportunity to play.]
My primary focus last night, and in fact a primary focus of much of my planning in the past few months, is health. 2020 definitely destroyed my adrenal health, which wasn’t ideal going into the year. Months of stress, uncertainty, rebellion, and disappointment have definitely taken their tolls on my body’s resilience and well-being. So I’m taking this first month of the year to really nourish my health and restore balance.
Adrenals & Stress
If you’re not familiar with the adrenals, they’re glands that help your body cope with stress – essentially, they produce adrenaline and cortisol. But when you’re body or your mind is feeling consistently stressed or anxious, then your adrenals can get out of balance. Once they’re out of balance, it’s even harder to tune out the stresses of daily life – especially in this wild uncertainty of our current society.
2020 was definitely an out-of-balance year, and I know that the stress and unbalance aren’t over yet. There’s no magic button to repair what we’ve started here. But there is an opportunity to heal: winter. Winter is the season of long nights, snowstorms, warm fires, and comfort foods. It’s a great time to settle back, light a few candles, and just breathe.
Intentionally creating an opportunity for the adrenals to relax changes everything. Fasting, foods that put less stress on the body, and herbs that can encourage the body to flush out excessive amounts of stress hormones are an ideal way to help the adrenals heal.
I tend to leave home less often in the winter anyway, and this year I’m choosing to be even more ‘in retreat’. This January, along with quiet time at home and lots of tea (herbal detox teas, smoky black teas, and soothing evening teas), I’m gathering a small army of herbs and supplements to help my body clear away the stress. There’s vitamins b & d, cod liver oil, potassium, magnesium, aswaghanda, linden, and ginger.
There’s also an increased reliance on fasting and on breaking fasts with nourishing bone broths and sauerkraut or barszcz. Lots of water from our mineral-rich, little well and an internet-free house are other essentials I’ve added to the mix.
I’m trying to make my herbal tea blends more than just another step in the healing process. If they’re going to really sink into my daily rituals, then these little tea times need to be something beautiful and restful in themselves. I love filling the days and weeks with tiny rituals that can “make each hour holy”. So my morning and evening herbal blends need to find their way into restful morning and evening habits.
These morning and evening rituals will, I hope, form the foundation and support of my January укро́мный. Starting and ending the day with intentional quiet is something I’d started to add back into my days as 2020 ended. But reclaiming routines after a long period of stress and neglect is challenging.
I’m trying not to make the routines too pressuring. There’s nothing less calm than overwhelming yourself with goals and good intentions. So I’m staying low key: tea and a book in the morning and tea and a journal in the evening. Ideally at a reasonable time of day… but not necessarily.
Are you trying to reclaim your health or quiet this year? I’d love to hear what and how you’re doing as we all step into a new year “full of things that have never been.”