“To appreciate the beauty of a snowflake, it is necessary to stand out in the cold.” —Aristotle
Winter is a time of slow energy, a feeling for the need to hibernate, and a want to rest and relax, to go within, to retreat and release. It is a time to reflect, to look forward and hold hope for what’s to come. It can be a time that is truly a gift for renewal. For some, it can be a time that is hard. For most of my life I have struggled with the cold, darkness and snow that comes with winter in Colorado. I have often asked myself why I live in a place where it snows when I don’t like it. A few years ago I decided to change my perspective on winter and started implementing some habits or rituals to help make this season more pleasant. If you embrace winter for all that it is, you may already have rituals in place to welcome the season and guide you through the season. If you are like me and need to make sure your self care is on point to embrace winter, perhaps these habits/rituals will help you too.
- Mornings & Sleep – Get yourself up and out of bed when your alarm goes off, no matter how much you want to hit the snooze button, though it is still dark, it will help you feel better in the darkness of winter. Aim to get 7+ hours of sleep at night
- Stretching/Yoga – Stretch just a bit right after getting out of bed. I like to do a full body stretch with my arms high in the air then gently go into a forward fold and rag doll. (Let my arms hang freely and move a little from side to side.) Then I slowly roll up to standing and give a bow of gratitude. I also like to end my day with a nourishing yoga practice, which I incorporate my Reiki practice into. This helps me relax and release the day before bed.
- Water – Staying hydrated in winter is so important, I do this by drinking water after I stretch and throughout the day. In winter we can be more prone to dehydration because it isn’t something we think about as much as the hot days of summer, when we are more likely to make sure we stay hydrated. Keep a stainless steel water bottle with you. I fill mine with water filtered from our Berkey water filter.
- Sunshine – Go outside and get sunshine on your eyeballs as soon as the sun is up. (Don’t look directly at the sun, ever!) Look to the horizon or up in the sky and stay out there for at least 5 minutes. This helps nourish your circadian rhythm and associated hormones.
- Food – In the winter, it is best to start your day with a nourishing, warming breakfast, filled with your choice of protein, high quality fat and fiber. If you really want a smoothie, add warming herbs like cinnamon or ginger, etc. As for lunch and dinner, I also love to have warming foods. Soups and chili are some of my favorites during the winter. They are quite easy to make and store for meal prep throughout the week. Roasted root vegetables are also a great during the winter. Incorporating immune nourishing herbs to any meal can help your body through the colder months when our lifestyles tend to switch to a way that makes it easier for us to come into contact with viruses, etc.
- Simmer Pots – Making a simmer pot to bring the gentle scents of the season into your home can really lift your mood, at least if does for me! I love adding cinnamon, citrus and pine plus various herbs and spices to a pot with water and letting it gently simmer, adding water as it reduces. You must never leave a simmer pot un attended and refill the water as needed.
- Candles – Light candles to bring warmth and that wonderful winter vibe when the days are especially cold and snowy. I prefer to use beeswax candles, you can make them yourself or buy locally made candles. Avoid anything with synthetic perfumes/scents or paraffin wax, etc. When you light a candle or snuff it out, make it into an intentional practice by being fully present and mindful.
- Herbal Baths/Soaks – Surrounding yourself with warm water and nourishing herbs and perhaps some bath salts is a fantastic way to nourish your body and mind in the dark nights of winter. There are many fantastic recipes and suggestions on the internet to help get you inspired. You can light candles, play your favorite music in the background. Really settle in and relax.
- Herbal Teas – I think I may like herbal teas more in the winter than in warmer months, but only by a smidgen. Mostly because you can drink tea to warm you up. There are so many choices of what herbs to use based on what you want to get out out your tea drinking experience. Again there are many recipes you can look to for inspiration on the internet. You can combine herbs or keep it simple and use just one. I like having tea throughout the day and especially in the evening. My whole family loves a good relaxing tea in the evening, that I often make a giant batch for everyone.
- Reading – Enjoying a good book or two, or three during winter can do so much for you. Depending on the book(s) you choose you can be whisked away into far off places, taken on a journey or dive deeper into a subject you want to know more about. Winter is a fantastic time to root down with a good book. It’s a great way to learn more about gardening or cooking or plant medicine before the growing season starts and it’s go, go, go.
- Get Outside & Play – Going outside can be just as deeply nourishing in the winter as any other season. Make sure you are dressed for the weather and head outside. The fresh air and light can do a world of wonders on how you feel. (This is going outside beyond the morning sunlight mentioned earlier.) Take a walk, go sledding, who says it’s only for kids? Have fun in the snow. This will give you something to look forward in the winter.
- Bedtime Routine – Just as you did/do with your kids, give yourself a bedtime routine and a bedtime. This can include lighting candles, a relaxing herbal tea, reading, a bath, gentle yoga, anything except screens or bright lights. You can create whatever works for you, stay consistent with this and you will find your days are so much better whether it’s winter or any other season.
These are just some self care habits and rituals that you can bring into the winter to help you enjoy the season, even if it’s just a little bit more. Intentional living and holistic self care is so important and perhaps even more important in the winter when we feel the pull to slow things down and focus on what we really want to bring in as well as release. It is the perfect time to take stock and make changes where needed/wanted. It is a great time to set intentions and create habits to bring about holistic wellness. I would love to know some of your winter self care habits and rituals, let me know in the comments!