The ultimate winter self care...
At this time of year we are often bombarded with tips and advice on how to ‘survive’ the winter months. Articles on how we can get through it, how to combat the germs flying around, how to be happier and healthier and still keep all our sh*t together during the colder weather and darker days. What to eat, when to eat, and what vitamins we need to have. It can be pretty overwhelming!
In some ways, this is another one of those posts. But in other ways it is completely different.
I am going to go against the grain and instead of telling you all the things you need to add in and ‘make sure’ you are doing, I am going to do the opposite. In a way.
I believe that the key to staying healthy over the winter months is actually to do less and let winter, be winter.
What do I mean by that?
Well… if you look around you at nature right now, you will see the trees dropping their remaining leaves, the animals are going into hibernation and the grass is no longer growing. The external natural environment is pressing pause, it is coming to a halt.
It is dark, murky, muddy and cold.
Of course there is still life being lived beneath the surface, but the outward show of nature is no longer in full bloom.
In fact - it can look pretty ugly at times!
We can’t stop nature being nature, we can’t convince the trees to keep their leaves green, or the flowers to blossom all year round - or if we can it is in a false environment which isn’t sustainable without human influence.
Winter is just being winter.
We are part of nature. Even though we often detach ourselves from it - there is no escaping that we are a part of this cyclical pattern and yet for the majority of us, when winter comes we expect to maintain the same level of energy as we do at other times of the year. In fact - we actually expect higher energy levels over the festive period when it is all about socialising and extroverted activities.
Last year I worked with a wonderful Ayurvedic coach and she helped me really embody the winter season. It wasn’t a big long list of things to do, it was in fact very simple, and very intuitive.
I ate warm nourishing cooked foods instead of cold, raw salads,
As much as possible I let myself sleep for longer - rising with the light and then withdrawing and hunkering down when it grew dark in the evenings.
I kept my body warm, especially my feet, my kidneys and my womb space - to maintain heat in the body.
I spent time reflecting on myself, my visions, my work and my life.
I used my inward time to practice beautiful self care rituals, such as self massage, dry body brushing, long luscious baths and deep restful meditations.
I enjoyed creative time in my journal, I wrote and cleared and explored myself without the worry of deadline or pressure of a busy schedule.
I booked in less social events (added bonus of saving money) and I did slow movement practices like yin yoga and walks on crisp winter days.
When the weather drew in - I drew in deeper. When it was bright and sunny I ventured out.
I let mother earth guide me, and the result was a much brighter, more vibrant ‘me’ when the time came to emerge into spring.
Unfortunately society seems to make us think that we need to be in full ‘bloom’ all the year round. It doesn’t take into consideration that we are all cyclical in our own way. The daft thing is - if we actually did honour these seasons - both inner and outer - then I believe that physical and emotional wellbeing would actually be better. I suspect that business productivity and workplace wellbeing would be increased, and mental health and burn out would actually reduce.
You will have heard people talk about being ‘in flow’ before - flow is effortless and easeful - and I truly feel that to be in this state we have to be honouring the environment around us. Otherwise we are fighting against nature - and nature is the greatest and most powerful force - we can only try and resist it’s desires for so long before it wears us down.
If a flower bloomed all year round, it wouldn’t seem so beautiful when it finally blossomed. If the trees stayed green then we wouldn’t get the beautiful autumn colours. If plants didn’t shed their leaves then we wouldn’t get rich fertile soil to bring new life into the world the following season.
Nothing is supposed to blossom all the time, that includes you.
So what if this winter, you actually let winter be winter?
What if you embraced and saw the seasonal change as a gift and a guide for your own wellbeing? What if you didn’t try and pretend it doesn’t exist by forcing your tired body to go, go, go?
Who knows what nature will give us this winter, but I trust that she will provide us with whatever it is we need. Maybe that will be rain, wind, mud, snow, frost or all of the above.
I can’t help but feel a little bit excited at the prospect of nestling in, getting cosy, and letting the wildness of Mother Earth do her thing. Let me know if you feel the same.
PS… if you are feeling the call to rest deeply this winter, then do join me for my next free online yoga nidra by clicking here.