It happens every year without fail. As the nights grow longer and the air around us dips colder, we find our bodies, souls, and minds follow suit. There are different ways to describe it – depression, seasonal affective disorder, feeling sad, isolation, restlessness, the winter blues – and chances are you have felt it at some point. As we enter in to this season of darkness and snow, it is important to provide ourselves with a little extra TLC by placing focus on mind, body, spirit, emotions, and connections to others.
The benefits of meditation have been shouted from the rooftops for quite some time now, however this practice is one that never gets old. Through meditation, we can actually change the structure of our brain, promoting learning and memory; reducing stress, anxiety, and fear; and helping to give our emotional and mental health a boost. While you may have an image of a monk sitting on the floor meditating for hours on end, these benefits can be achieved by incorporating just 10 minutes of meditation into your day. Find a meditation Youtube video or app that you enjoy, and begin by spending just a few minutes in the morning or evening taking some time to help boost your brain.
Meditation Apps to Try: Headspace, Calm, Oak, and Insight
Colorful and Natural Eating
When the days are gray and the nights are dark, it is particularly important to nourish your body with the nutrients and the vitamins that it requires. One way that this can easily be done is to plan your meals around plant based colorful foods. There are numerous fruits and vegetables that are part of the winter season, including cabbage, Brussels sprouts, winter squash, citrus fruits and pomegranates; that can provide you with the extra nutritious boost that your body craves. You can also seek these through vitamins, natural supplements, or the use of infrared saunas or lamps. Your body will thank you.
Environment as a Sanctuary
Our environment is a huge contributor to our emotional and mental health, and one that often goes overlooked. Particularly during the winter months, aim to transform your home into a space that feels inspiring, nourishing, and life giving to you. This may mean adding some extra candles, blankets, or lamps into the room. This may mean filling your space with your creative pursuits. Find what brings you to life and fill your home with that. Also, although the weather may not be your ideal, take time to spend outdoors. As the Scandinavians say, there is no such thing as bad weather, only inadequate clothing. So bundle up, put on some hardy boots, and go for a walk. Find a winter sport that you enjoy, whether it is skiing, ice-skating, or snow shoeing. Not only will this nourish your spirit, but also it may help transform your opinion of winter!
Late fall and early winter is the season of thanksgiving, connecting with those we love, and celebrating joy. Carry this attitude of gratitude into the New Year and the rest of the winter season. Through practicing gratitude, we can shift our whole perspective and drastically improve our emotional well-being. Try writing a sentence or two at the end of the day in a gratitude journal. Create a gratitude jar and watch it fill up as you place in what you are grateful for each day. Write a letter to someone that you love thanking him or her for how they have impacted your life.
Engaging in Community
One of the largest contributing factors to the winter blues is often the isolation that follows it. While our natural instincts may be to hibernate (and that certainly has it’s own joys!), it is also important that we prioritize community and connections with others. Try inviting some friends over for coffee and sweets, a game night, or to watch a movie. Look into joining a book club or a workout class at your local gym or yoga studio. Call up a friend and ask if they would like to join you for a winter hike followed by a hot cup of cocoa. You are created for connection – care for yourself throughout the winter months by intentionally seeking that community.