9 Simple Suggestions for Blissful Self-Care During Winter
With Christmas and New Year far behind us, we're now in the sticky middle of winter. For most of us, spring is still a couple of months off and the inclement weather, dark nights and cold can drag. Self-care during winter is more important than ever, especially for people who find their mood and sense of well-being are influenced by weather.After having conversations with a couple of clients about this topic recently, I thought it might be helpful to share some of my favourite winter self-care suggestions alongside others crowd-sourced from the wonderful folks inside the Becoming Who You Are Facebook group (not a member? Join us here).[Tweet "Stuck for winter self-care suggestions? Find 9 simple ways to take care of yourself here."]
9 simple suggestions for self-care during winter
1. Keep moving
It's cold. It's dark. It's uncomfortable. But we will feel so much better if we make time to move and get our blood pumping each day. If it's too cold or icy to stick to your usual routine, get creative. A few winters ago, I used the season as an opportunity to try hot yoga for the first time. Alternatively, work out from the comfort of your own home or try a new community class.
2. Leave the house
Getting outside is important all year round, but especially during winter. Vitamin D is crucial for the health of our bones, among other important things, and it's not naturally found in many foods. The only way we generate it is by exposure to UV rays (sunlight), eating fortified foods, or through taking special supplements.Someone in the Facebook group raised the importance of making time to get out of the house and do something enjoyable, rather than only when necessary. One of the most popular suggestions that combines 1 and 2 was bundling up and going for a walk. If your local route isn't that nice, pair your outing with some peppy music, a podcast or your favourite audiobook for greater enjoyment. Alternatively, if spending time in nature is on your When Life Works list, find somewhere you can stroll in peace and connect with your thoughts.
3. Get comfortable
Pick up a fluffy robe and cozy socks. Make a steaming mug of tea, light candles, stoke the fire, and focus on comfort. Surround yourself with colours, particularly if outside is looking grey. Get a few indoor plants to remind yourself that nature will bloom again soon.
4. Swap comfort foods for wholesome foods
When winter leaves us feeling low in energy and mood, it can be tempting to turn to comfort food, only to feel worse later on. If this applies to you, notice what you're craving and dig deeper: what is the true emotional need underneath this feeling?While some kinds of food can be coping strategies, other kinds can be genuine self-care. Make time to nourish yourself from the inside out, help your immune system fight off the colds and flu that abound at this time of year, and make the most out of winter-only seasonal produce.
5. Maintain personal habits
When 90% of your body is covered by thick layers of thermals and wool, it's tempting to let a few personal habits/aesthetic maintenance activities slide during the winter. Everyone has different ways of taking care of themselves on an appearance level and different things that leave them feeling good.If you know you feel better after shaving your legs, keep doing it even if they're ensconced in thermals all day. If you enjoy getting manicures during the summer, make time for that every now and again, even if your paws are going to spend all day in mittens. What matters most about these things isn't what you look like, but how it makes you feel.
6. Find ways to embrace and enjoy winter, rather than just enduring it
It's no secret I don't enjoy winter, and the last few years I've deliberately set up my life in such a way so I can avoid it as much as possible by travelling to warmer climates.I also know that how I feel about winter is deeply influenced by how I think about it. The more I think "Urgh, winter" and focus on all the aspects of it I don't like (the cold, the rain, more cold, so much cold), the worse I feel about it. The more I think about all the things I kind of enjoy however (festive lights! the possibility of snow! feeling warm and cozy under a blanket!), the more I can live with it.It's a simple mindset shift, but it makes a huge difference. If you find yourself dwelling on all the reasons winter is the worst, challenge yourself to name a few things that are kind of fun too.
7. Get creative
Use the inclement weather and long, dark nights to start a new hobby, try something you've been wanting to try for a while, or to enjoy uninterrupted reflective time. Getting creative is one of the ultimate mood boosters, and the winter is the perfect time to start a daily creative practice.Try using quiet winter mornings to write, journal and reflect. Think of creative activities you've enjoyed in the past and re-introduce some of those into your days. If you find yourself sitting in front of the TV or aimlessly browsing online, set yourself a reading challenge and revisit some of your favourite books.
8. Follow nature's patterns
A member of the Facebook group mentioned they use winter for symbolic tidying, thinning out and weeding in their garden. Why not adopt nature's cycles into our own lives too? The slower, reflective winter months can be great for reviewing, assessing and clearing out the things that no longer serve us, making room for the new opportunities, energy and life that comes with the spring.
9. Respect your natural rhythms
There is no right way you should feel during winter, so embrace your you-ness. If you notice you feel more reflective during the winter months, use that. If you notice the urge to slow down and hibernate, do it. If you need to sleep more, snooze away.Everyone is walking to the beat of their own drum, so be mindful of urges to compare yourself to others, and practice reconnecting with and noticing your own energy levels and internal patterns. We tend to criticise (or even pathologise) ourselves when our true experience and our expectations for what that experience should be don't match. But it's usually our expectations that are the issue, not our true experience. I know I tend to feel far more energised and brighter during the summer, but that doesn't mean the way I feel during the winter is somehow bad or wrong—it's just different. Rather than fighting any kind of slow down or shift, find ways to respect, embrace and use it.What are your favourite suggestions for self-care during winter? Leave a comment and share your thoughts!Further reading: 10 powerful books on self-care that will enrich your life & creating daily opportunities for self-care