Does winter have you worn down, unmotivated, blue, tired, and/or restless?
Winter is classically the time of year when people tend to hibernate, rest, and reflect. If you are fortunate to live in a place like Colorado where we experience four distinct seasons, there is a sense of appreciation for winter, even if it’s not the most beloved season. The contrast of the bitter cold winter air and snowy conditions often makes the playful seasons of springtime and summer all the more brilliant.
ALL self care starts by establishing boundaries. Because winter can sometimes pose an extra challenge, it’s a great time to set aside a daily sacred hour for yourself to indulge in our suggestions below and other rituals that support happiness and balance.
Below you’ll find our top tips for self-care during the coldest, darkest months of the year, and some suggestions on the most nurturing ways to spend your winter season.
Give yourself permission
Don’t be afraid to actively slow down. We are naturally programmed to do so when the days get shorter. Devote time to yourself and use this time of year for at-home retreats. Take intentional breaks from your tendency to clean out closets and double-down on chores and instead, prepare warm nourishing foods, reflect in your journal, stretch, and do what makes you feel good, all the way to your core. Notice a sense of unhurriedness, immerse yourself in solitude, and spend time connecting leisurely with others.
This simple, primal suggestion may seem obvious and the indoor artificial heat is especially drying, while the cold temps make hydration an afterthought. Hot tea is often a beverage of choice and preparing it can be a great ritual after work or before bed, taking time to reflect, slow down, and nurture yourself. Consuming enough water supports energy levels and combats the usual wintertime fatigue during the darker months.
Waking up to darkness makes hitting the snooze button so much easier. Yet with such short days, it’s especially important to exercise, stretch, and get your heart rate up during the winter months. Because the morning darkness might make it harder to wake up, early morning meditation and movement is an energy-enhancing, mood-boosting solution. Try a short yoga session or a mediation to begin your day on a high note. (yogadownload.com hyperlink)
The most important thing to do is to find an exercise schedule you can commit to. Sometimes, without the flexibility of outdoor exercise options, scheduling exercise can be easier with the necessity to coordinate with gym classes or yoga schedules, or the limited daylight hours if lunchtime running or walking is part of your regime. And remember, while longer workouts typically give you more physical and emotional benefits, even 10 minutes of activity can be helpful to improving your day.
Have a date with yourself
Quality alone time can be deeply nourishing. Just as if you were planning a date with a loved one, do research, make plans, and decide on a day that will make you truly happy. See a movie in a quirky genre you truly love, cook a slow dinner, or visit a museum. Guiltlessly enjoy your own company.
Along the same lines, perhaps host a DIY home spa day -- an opportunity to clean and nourish your body with some at-home pampering. Download the perfect playlist and take care of yourself from head to toe. Start with facials and work your way all the way down to pedicures. Perhaps even chose affirmations to repeat during this self-care day, or invite your best friend to partake. Take good care of your body, mind, and heart.
Wintertime can often feel lonely and isolating. There is no better time than the coldest months of the year to connect with friends, family, and loved ones. Set a goal, such as making one connection per day or per week via email, phone, facebook, or an old-fashioned letter. Make reaching out to others a conscious intention and your social circles will soon expand in meaningful ways. Support comes in many forms and meet-up interest groups, therapists, and religious/spiritual groups can all be important resources.
Explore your interests
What are you truly passionate about? Dive in and research, explore, and learn about your true interests. Perhaps it’s jewelry-making, authentic Italian cooking, drawing, scrapbooking, etc. Notice what makes you feel more alive and simply do more of that.
Rest and Reflect
It’s most intuitive to rest and set aside time for introspection in the winter, while summertime is usually associated with social opportunities. Take naps, go to bed early, and curl up with your favorite book or movie. Journaling is always an effective way to deepen the relationship you have with yourself, so light a candle and grab a pen. Balance, embrace, and allow for these seasonal tendencies.
Take time to give to yourself, so you can best give to others. Contact me, Dr. Hick, Denver psychologist, if seasonal depression is an ongoing challenge or if seasonal feelings are not shifting and getting in the way of life.