January is a hard month for me. Living in the upper Midwest, I have already been experiencing cold, gray weather for two months, and I know I have at least two or three more months to go. Not seeing the sun for days and weeks at a time takes a toll on my spirit. My mood begins to reflect the gloominess I see in nature. And I feel tired, isolated, and a little blue.
It does not help that the Christmas season is wrapping up. My home will get darker, when I unplug the lights and pack away the sparkling decor for another year. The sanctuary of my parish will feel a little bare without the Nativity and poinsettias.
As we begin the new year, it can feel anything but hopeful. Instead, it can feel dark and cold. It can feel ordinary and rather blah. As I mourn the end of Christmas, I can easily wish winter would hurry up and be over, so the warmth of spring can bloom.
But God is not in the “wishing away.” And He certainly does not want me to live life waiting for winter to end.
God is in today. He is in the winter. He is in the ordinary. And He invites me to live this present moment — as cold and dark as it might be — with intention and purpose.
Simple Ways to Beat the Winter Blues
Inspired by some Scripture readings from the Christmas season, here are four themes that will help us beat the winter blues and fully embrace the ordinary month of January.
A light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. (John 1:5)
We may not have an Advent wreath to light or Christmas lights on a tree, but we can still illuminate the darkness of winter, uplift our spirits, and warm our hearts.
- Light candles at dinner, especially on the Lord’s Day, and during your daily prayer time.
- With candles or a diffuser, fill your home with warm scents, such as frankincense, myrrh, cinnamon, nutmeg, and citrus.
- Have a supply of cozy blankets ready for bundling.
- Create a tea and cocoa station in your kitchen, and keep it well stocked with delicious ingredients for your favorite warm drinks.
Forever I will sing the goodness of the Lord. (Psalm 89:1)
The beloved music of Advent and Christmas has turned off for another year, so let’s find other ways to praise the Lord.
- January is dedicated to the Holy Name of Jesus. What is your favorite name for Jesus? Savior, Messiah, Redeemer, Lord of Lords, Mighty God, Prince of Peace, or something else? Invite Jesus, under this particular title, to reign in your heart and take care of you, as you begin the new year.
- Start a gratitude list.
- Create a playlist of your favorite praise and worship songs.
- Enjoy traditional hymns of Adoration.
And Mary kept all these things, reflecting on them in her heart. (Luke 2:19)
It can be easy to pray during the Advent and Christmas seasons. During Ordinary Time, we may not have a special devotional or a Jesse Tree to keep us on track, but there are beautiful ways to keep the prayer momentum going.
- Pray with the daily Psalm or Gospel.
- Journal about how God is speaking to you through Scripture.
- Spend time with Jesus in Eucharistic Adoration.
- Pray the Rosary. Start with one decade per day.
How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him who brings glad tidings, announcing peace, bearing good news. (Isaiah 52:7)
During the Christmas season, we visit with family. We catch up with friends. We reach out to those less fortunate. We bring cookies to our aunt in the nursing home and our elderly neighbor. Come January, life gets quieter … and lonelier, so it is important to stay connected with others.
- Go on a date with your spouse.
- Meet a friend for coffee.
- Plan a game night with your family.
- Bring a meal to a new mom or homebound neighbor.
- Volunteer to serve the poor with your parish’s outreach ministry.
How do you find ways to beat the winter blues and fully embrace the ordinary month of January?
Copyright 2020 Sarah Damm