It’s cold. The radio stations have stopped playing holiday music. The frosted green and red cookies that once covered the countertops in the work break room are gone. The next company holiday, for some, is in 3 weeks, on Martin Luther King Jr Day. The routine of life has returned, with no break in site, unless you planned a winter getaway.

There are many reasons that I dislike January. In fact, I often subconsciously state them to myself every year as soon as Christmas passes, causing anxiety and dread that grows stronger as January 1 nears.

But not this year. This year, I’ve decided to take a different approach, hoping that I can lessen, if not remove, that anxiety. I’ve decided to create an Ode to January: a list of 4 things that I love about this cold, post-holiday slump of a month.

  1. Taking a Winter Hike

Back in January 2015, after a record-amount of freezing rain and ice, the Philadelphia area had its first clear day in weeks. The temperature was barely above 20 degrees, but the sky was a beautiful, bright blue, and the sun was actually shining. In spite of the lingering ice and persistent cold, a few friends and I decided to take a hike in Wissahickon Valley Park. This park has several mapped trails that wind along Wissahickon Creek, and a wide, pedestrian-only road that in the warmer months, is packed with runners and bikers. Our hike that day was a slow, cautious one, but it made me realize that even in cold months, a little sunshine can really brighten my mood.

  1. Making Chili

There’s something about warm, hearty chili on a Saturday or Sunday afternoon that makes staying inside on a cold January day (or returning inside after a winter hike!) so enjoyable. There are hundreds of recipes online, for every palate from the hearty vegetarian to the spicy meat-eater, and the crock pot makes it easy to cook chili without investing too much time. For some rules to live by when it comes to crock pot cooking, check out this blog post.

  1. Returning to the Routine

I love the holiday season, but during this season, it often feels as if my schedule is no longer driven by the usual priorities, like work, exercise, and errands. Albeit fun, end-of-year parties, impromptu get-togethers, and annual gift exchanges leave little room for the routine. In January, there is comfort in the normalcy that returns with the routine. If I’m lucky, I was able to spend time with friends and family I hadn’t seen in months/years in December, so I don’t feel the pull to schedule many social activities in January. This leaves room for exercise, like running and yoga, and later days in the office playing catch-up and getting organized for the year ahead.

  1. Creating New Year’s Resolutions

Having a goal has always given me a much-needed challenge. But having a goal that I can stick to and am likely to achieve? Even better. That’s why I’ll often spend the first two weeks of January developing goals for the year. I’ll map out what would need to occur in each week/month in order for the goal to be achieved, right down to that last month and me achieving that goal, so that I can really see what it’ll take. This visualization also helps me realize if this will be a realistic goal. Even if it turns out that it won’t, I’ve often learned something about myself along the way.

What is your least favorite month, and why? Try and think of 4 things you like about that month and jot them down. When that month arrives, you’ll have a list of activities/reminders that may lessen your negative feelings about that month.