Self Care in Winter
I’ve written before about self care but it’s just one of those topics where there’s always something else to say. It’s essentially looking ourselves in a way that enables us to live a good life. Sometimes that’s easy and sometimes it’s incredibly tough, but I believe that it’s always worthwhile. It is, however, really easy to get stuck in a rut.
I’m a big fan of switching up seasonally when it comes to taking care of myself, because, let’s face it, what works on a warm and sunny summer’s day isn’t what will make me feel good when it’s dark by 5pm and decidedly chilly.
In winter, I find being outside a lot less fun, don’t make such varied food choices, and the TV is always the easiest option. Sure, it’s not going to kill me to hibernate for a few months but it doesn’t make me feel good either and this is where the seasonal shake up comes in.
Recognise that you need it
So much of what we do is because we’re on autopilot. We get up, do the same things, in the same way, come home, sleep and do it all again without noticing it. Autopilot can be really useful when it helps us do basic tasks like walking and driving without thinking out the whole process each time, but when it comes to looking after ourselves, it isn’t very helpful.
Maybe a quarterly reminder in your diary would help you check in with what’s working for you? I know it’s something I’d benefit from! Find a way to remind yourself that you may want to shake things up a bit. This will mean that your expectation of what you do can be a bit looser, a bit freer, and that’s never a bad thing. If you’re not keen on a formal reminder, can you check in with yourself and ask “what do I need right now?” Then listen to the answer! I truly believe that we know ourselves better than anyone, and that listening to our gut instinct will always show us the way.
Listen in and follow the answer.
What feels good right now?
My clients often speak about not being able to see things through and being a bit flaky, but when I probe a bit, it can often be the case that they’re holding themselves to a standard, day in, day out. Now this might be useful when it comes to things like personal hygiene, or taking care of children, but is it as important when it comes to something like hobbies? What if you want to read more in the summer or cross stitch in winter? Is there any need to keep these things going year round? Not as far as I can see.
We’re used to eating differently at different times of the year. Picnics and BBQs are staples of the summer, whereas roast dinners and stews are seen as winter food. So what about your self care? What’s seasonal for you, and what does work year round?
Once you notice what feels good in winter, you can give yourself more of it, and lessen the expectations in other areas.
Notice your self talk
“I never keep anything up.”
“I should be…”
Stop right there please. There’s no right, and there’s no wrong to this. Just you, what feels good and what keeps you, your mind and your body ticking along. It doesn’t matter what magazines say, what that influencer on Instagram is doing, or even what your own mind deems suitable.
Noticing the thoughts we have on certain issues, whether that’s self care or a different topic, is a great starting place to deal with those thoughts. Moving towards a place where you can notice your thoughts and let them pass like clouds across a beautiful blue sky is ideal. Sometimes that comes easily to me, and sometimes I can simply laugh at them and say “hmmmm, okaayyyy then….” before letting the nonsense go.
Thoughts aren’t facts, and we don’t have to follow each one.
There’s a reason that hygge was all the rage a few years ago. The Danes know what they’re talking about and are experts at dealing with long, dark, cold nights in a way that most of us can’t even comprehend. Getting cosy, lighting candles, wearing comfy clothes and spending time with our nearest and dearest in beautiful surroundings are simple, cost effective and, well, just blooming lovely. It’s one step away from hibernation in my book, and I’m all for it, even though I live in Valencia where it’s sunny pretty much every day.
I still feel the hibernation vibes every evening, so I pull on my comfiest clothes, my warmest socks and grab a soft blanket from the back of the sofa, to snuggle up and watch films that I’ve loved since childhood.
This won’t help you much if you suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder, and find this time of year much harder than I do, I know. But to those of you who are just a bit “meh” after Christmas, then it’s a good place to start.
Do it your way
Of course, you may be reading this and wondering what on earth I’m going on about. Maybe you’re someone who loves winter, relishes the cold and can muster the motivation to go running every day, no matter the temperature. If so, kudos to you!
Likewise if you really struggle with this time of year and feel awful then you might not get much from this article and would be better off going to see your doctor for some advice instead.
What I want you to takeaway from this, is that there is no right or wrong to winter self care, but that a lot of us struggle in some way. Rather than trying to do things year round that “should” make you feel better, you can do whatever feels good/best to you right now. Lots of people really struggle with this time of year, but going a bit easier on yourself may go a long way.
What do you do to look after yourself in winter, and how does it differ from other seasons? Please tell us in the comments!