Well, we made it through Christmas! All of the extra events and tasks squeezed into our already full schedules have come to an end, I think. Most of us look to January as a down time… a time when things are forced to slow down a bit due to the weather conditions. We are just beginning to take an easy and unhurried breath again when we are bombarded.

Yes, it’s true. We are literally bombarded with every diet book, fitness guru, and workout wonder known to man.   Certainly, marketing executives are out of touch with real women. After weeks of shopping, cooking, writing cards, attending school and business holiday functions, decorating, entertaining, and volunteering, women need a comfort month to regain their balance. Retired folks need a work break!

But honestly, women of any age are exhausted after the holidays. Boomer women have exhausted themselves “re-creating” the perfect home for their returning adult children. They have cooked everyone’s favorite meal in which some of the dishes contain the phrase, “from scratch.” Let me tell you, “scratch” is always the most tiresome ingredient. Many have shopped for those hard-to-find hot toys of the season for precious grandchildren. Then there are the social obligations and grandchildren’s performances. Just balancing the calendar can bring on fatigue for many women.

So we definitely need a new mindset for January. After all this stress, the last thing any woman needs is the media overwhelming her to punish herself. I don’t care how it is marketed…

“Do it for yourself!”

“Become your best self!”

“Feel younger and stronger!”

It is still pressure and punishment. Punishment for all those lovely meals we worked so hard to create during the holidays. Why should we feel bad about it?

So I recommend that we practice “Joyful January,” a month of relaxation and reflection… a month to regain our balance. We can do this by tuning out all the media blitz about dieting and exercise. There! I said it! It is okay to curl up in your favorite chair and reflect on the great memories you’ve just made and enjoy a treat.

Reward yourself with a special snack after you have undecorated the tree and cleaned up the mess. Breathe deeply and enjoy the contented feeling of a successful family event. If you feel energetic, go ahead and organize your holiday pictures into an album or transfer them onto a disc. The reflection time you take for yourself is invaluable.

I recommend a lot of stretching in January. When you first wake in the morning, breathe deeply and stretch your legs out wiggling your toes in the luxury of your sheets, knowing that you do not have to cram them into dress shoes for a party. After your shower, stretch your arms into a hug for yourself in appreciation for all you’ve done for the holidays. Before dressing, bend forward and touch the floor. Think of it as a well-deserved bow for a successful performance, whether for believable “acting” or best supportive family member.

Please help me to infuse the peaceful month of January with joy for exhausted women of every age and location. We’ll start with one delayed gym membership at a time. February is a more reasonable month to start your new healthy exercise routine.   The gyms will be less crowded as the New Year’s resolutions quickly expire for most folks by the end of the month. I urge you to embrace Fitness February, thereby giving your self-permission to put the joy back into January.

Relax, rejuvenate, and regain a Joyful January!