Welcome to mid-January. The hype of the holidays have fizzled, you are back to the daily grind, the fresh excitement of snow and winter wonderlands have faded to dreary days and driveways waiting to be shoveled.
Even if you don’t live in the frozen tundra, mid-January to mid-march tends to be really bland. It’s serious hibernation mode for this hemisphere, and it’s easy to feel stuck and blah.
But have no fear! I have good news! There are certain practices to adopt that can bring some cheer to late winter, and I shall share them with you today.
Ever since I started studying and practicing Ayurveda (a natural, earth-based system of medicine and lifestyle that originated in India), I have come to really love every season. In Ayurveda, each season brings different foods, habits, observations, etc., and so I get excited with season changes because that means I get to start incorporating something new into my self-care practice and daily life.
Here are some wonderful winter practices to help embrace the unique things to the season.
Permission To Rest (productively)
If you look at what the rest of the living things are doing, they are resting. They are resting and regaining strength, so when the Spring comes, they are rejuvenated and ready to move forward in full force.
And even if our jobs and commitments don’t rest, we should (like our plant and furry friends) try and rest as much as we can. And by resting, I don’t mean being lazy on the couch, neglecting everyday tasks, and sleeping all of the time. Resting in this context means to commit to less. Don’t run around with your head cut off. Don’t stay out late partying every weekend. Go to bed a little earlier. Commit to a little less. Unplug more frequently. Rest from being stimulated every waking second.
This productive rest can calm your nerves and brain and everything else more so you can be recharged for the coming seasons.
Our tissues and body systems are naturally depleted this time of year. We don’t have as much sunshine, outdoor time, and fresh food as we usually do. So we need to be extra mindful of giving our bodies what it needs.
Winter is NOT the time for cleanses. I repeat, NOT the time for cleanses. Please resist the temptation of starting the year off with a cleanse. It’s OK to cleanse the body of processed sugar and other crap, but major juice or other crazy cleanses, save it for spring, if you must.
Instead, build up your body with warm, nourishing foods. Stay away from dry, cold foods. Stay hydrated. Add some healthy fats like nuts, coconut oil, or avocados to your diet. Think of moisturizing your body on the inside.
This will prepare you to shed and cleanse what isn’t needed in the spring and early summer.
Think of what your body does when it’s cold. It shivers and tenses. All of that shivering and tensing can fatigue the muscles and contribute to body pain. Bundling up and staying warm, inside and outside, can help keep you relaxed.
When outside, especially with extreme cold and/or wind, cover up as much as possible. Not only will that weather damage your skin, but that exposure will release precious energy your body needs.
The Sound Of Silence
Have you ever walked outside during a light snowfall or just after? What do you hear? There is this beautiful stillness and silence that is quite peaceful to behold.
We can emulate this silence in our own lives. Winter is a great time to spend more time listening to ourselves and do some deep inner work. You can do this by starting a journaling practice, or do more journaling if you already write regularly. Meditation or deep breathing exercises is another way.
And just talking less. Really listening to others. Stepping back from overpowering a conversation or getting ready with your response before the other person is done talking. Listening is such a valuable skill, and this is a good time of year to work on it.
Embrace The Darkness
And we know, winter is a time of year with less sunlight. This can be really hard on us. Seasonal depression is a real thing. But instead of hating it, the more we embrace it and work with it, the better we will be.
Vitamin D is a must. There are so many studies that show how increasing your vitamin D intake can be helpful. But make sure you find a legit brand. Most of the cheaper, generic brands are just filled with fluff. Head to health foods store or ask your doctor.
I haven’t tried light lamps, but I have friends that swear by them. Investing in a lamp that recreates the sunrise and/or sunlight can help your body with its rhythms.
And like I hinted at earlier, winter is a great time to do deep inner work. To bring light to the darker areas of ourselves. It’s challenging work, so work with a therapist or trusted friend if you need to, but it’s so important to have times of self-improvement. To tend to deep wounds. If we don’t, they will eventually surface, and usually not in happy ways.
Taking the time to heal on that level will not only improve your own life, but it will improve your relationships as well because so much of how we deal with other people is a reflection of our own experience.
And so, on this wintery Sunday, I invite you to contemplate these points and pick out one or two that really resonate with you. Spend this next week incorporating them into your life and see how it makes you feel. There is much joy to be had!