If you're into astrology or astronomy, you might know that new moons are a time for setting new intentions and engaging in new beginnings. That's a sensibility to get behind even you aren't really into astrology, right? I've become increasingly fascinated by moon cycles in recent years, as I think if nothing else, it's a fixed, natural guideline for self-reflection. A moon cycle is 28 days long—the exact same length as a menstrual cycle, for what it's worth—which provides a perfect timeline for setting new goals and seeing them through. That's a philosophy that goes well beyond the zodiac, by the way: Ancient modalities like Ayurveda have embraced lunar energy for centuries.
The point is that no matter your degree of skepticism, we can all utilize this astrological event to look inward and engage in self-care. Below is a three-step guide to making the most of the new moon.
Light some incense and candles, put on your favorite record, wind down with a good book… whatever you need to put yourself in a reflective mood. Our immediate environment directly impacts our mental state, so if you're feeling overwhelmed or cluttered, now would be a great time to address that in whatever way you see fit. (And have fun with it—I personally take this as an opportunity to pretend that I'm in The Craft.)
Get a notebook ready, and start to consider where you're feeling stagnant, overwhelmed, or perhaps simply ready to move on. Consider how you've already changed throughout this year. Where would you like to go next?
Sometimes it can be difficult to unearth these feelings without putting pen to paper first. I often need to journal for a bit or even look back on previous entries to see the throughline; our subconscious has a way of giving us clues in that way. Just remember that when it comes to expressing your thoughts, there are no wrong answers. It only serves to enhance self-awareness. "It's like a psychic Polaroid snapshot of your mind in real time," says Heather Silvestri, Ph.D., a New York City–based clinical psychologist.
Now that you've taken the time to reflect on your mindset, you can go ahead and turn your attention toward related goals you'd like to accomplish in the coming weeks. "If you want to start something new in your life, be it new business ventures, relationships, or new personal projects, it's good practice to start them on Amavasya, or the no-moon day, and see them through Purnima, the full-moon day," says Pratima Raichur, Ayurvedic guru and the founder of Pratima Skincare.
These don't need to be huge, sweeping goals. In fact, I find that naming smaller intentions (things like taking an hour every day to do something creative, getting my finances organized, or spending more time in my garden) are ultimately more satisfying and transformative simply because they're doable in the short term. If while reflecting, for example, you realized that you're feeling drained at work, there's no need to write down "get a new job" as your intention—instead, maybe it's "take a walk during my lunch hour" or "focus on delegating." In the coming weeks, you can see how those smaller goals are impacting your well-being and take it from there.
Write them down and contemplate how you plan on accomplishing them. Generally, the idea is that you revisit these intentions at the full moon to see how they've manifested, but that's ultimately up to you. For now, even if it feels cheesy, just show yourself some gratitude for taking the time to address your mindset and goals. In the end, there's nothing woo-woo about investing in your own happiness.
This article was published at an earlier date and has since been updated by Sarah Yang. Next up: Why You Should Add Tarot to Your Self-Care Routine.