Have you got the winter blues? After the holiday hubbub has died down and the newness of the year begins to wear off, the depths of winter take hold. For many, this long stretch of frigid temperature and extended darkness can be difficult. The darkness keeps us indoors, away from active pursuits, and the cold encourages us to indulge in heavy, comforting foods. Sickness, lethargy, and even depression are common side effects during these winter months and can keep us from being our best selves.
Fortunately, there are ways to handle the long slog of the season that can keep us feeling well and whole, free from the winter blues. This time of year is perfect for staying close to home, taking things slower than ever, and listening to ourselves so that we are activated when springtime finally rolls around. Winter and the new year offer a chance to reflect, take stock, set intentions and habits for the rest of the year. Instead of writing these winter months off as a bad job, we suggest taking advantage of this time to take care of yourself, to practice wellness in the midst of winter.
1. Meditation: This is an excellent way to focus the thoughts and distill all of the voices floating around in your head. When you take the time to sit, breathe, and allow your mind to be still, you will find that the important thoughts are the ones that rise to the surface. Taking 10 minutes each morning (or just once a week) to sit quietly and breathe deeply can help you find your center and remember what is truly important in your life. When meditating, negative thoughts should be acknowledged (breathe in) and released (breathe out) while positive thoughts should be acknowledged (breathe in) and internalized (breathe out).
2. Learn something new: Carving out time for learning is an excellent way to exercise the brain and get the heart excited for days to come. Whether you’ve been meaning to learn how to code, speak Spanish, or cook, winter is the perfect season to dedicate a few hours each week to your new skill.
3. Read a book: If you’re more of a quiet person who prefers to take it really slow, winter offers the perfect moment to curl up and enjoy a good book. Reading something new and exciting will help take the mind off of daily doldrums and bad weather, instead taking it to explore new shores and enjoy a different frame of mind for a while. If you find yourself lacking the time to read, we suggest downloading a good audiobook and enjoying it while tackling other, less exciting tasks like cleaning or cooking. However you do it, finding a good read to occupy the mind is an excellent way to while away the wintertime.
1. Take a walk: We know, it’s cold out there, but taking a short walk can do wonders for the body, especially during winter. A breath of fresh air, blood rushing through the legs, and the plume of warmth emitted with every breath reminds us that we are alive and lucky enough to have landed on this beautiful planet. So go ahead, stretch your legs for a 15 minute walk around the neighborhood and see how invigorated you feel afterwards!
2. Moisturize: An unexpected but serious consequence of winter is the effect it has on our skin. Combat dryness with something soft that will moisturize your skin into sumptuous perfection. Shea butter is a beautiful thing on cracked hands, split ends, and chapped lips. We recommend applying a generous amount of one of our organic shea butter blends right before bed to any area of the body that needs moisture - when you wake up you’ll feel a difference. Our all natural lip balm glides on easily for instant relief and our small tins of shea butter are perfect for reapplication to dry hands throughout the day (we keep one at our desk and in our handbag!). It may seem like a small thing, but when the cold winds blow, your skin will thank you for the extra attention.
3. Eat good food: Instead of indulging in sugar-laden, fatty, or carbohydrate dense foods, opt for recipes that will strengthen and warm your body from the inside out. Hearty soups, spicy curries, jam-packed salads, and hot beverages are our favorite things to enjoy during these immuno-challenged months. Try incorporating as many of these ingredients into your winter meals as possible for maximum warmth, fuel, and immune-boosting properties: turmeric, ginger, cinnamon, cumin, sweet potato, citrus, beets, dark leafy greens, and anything fermented.
1. Self-care rituals: We know, it sounds a little hippy dippy, but self care rituals are our saving grace in the wintertime. Anything that makes you feel special, cared for, and calm counts. We love to burn incense to invoke a warm, cozy feeling in the house. Setting out a few choice crystals or talismans that carry a good memory can bring positive energy into your day to day. Taking the time for an herbal facial steam or a warm bath can help lift your mood and release tension. Whatever silly little thing makes you happy, carve out some time for it this winter and enjoy the emotional boost - you deserve it!
2. Spend time with loved ones: Rather than staying home to Netflix and chill, try inviting a friend over to occupy the couch alongside you. Or better yet, play a game together! Make time for a girls night in and enjoy those self-care rituals in a group setting. Whatever it is that you do, winter is the perfect time to enjoy your loved ones in a cozy setting. Time at home with someone you love can be the best way to heal any pain that winter may bring.
3. Get creative: Creativity is so good for the soul! Choose to challenge yourself to create something once a week and get the inspiration flowing. Making something with your hands has an extremely therapeutic effect, allowing the mind to wander or quiet while the hands slip into a well-practiced routine. The repetitive nature of most creative pursuits allows the mind and body to merge into one, thus feeding the soul with an energy that is difficult to find.
Whatever you do this winter, do it with intention and softness. Take care of yourself and your loved ones by remembering to be compassionate and honest about your needs and your limits. Enjoy the slowness and be well in your mind, body, and soul.
*Faye Lessler is a New York City-based, California-born advocate for sustainable living, a writer, and a community organizer. Through her blog, Sustaining Life, Faye seeks to inspire the eco-curious to keep treading down the path towards a sustainable and ethical lifestyle, while simultaneously supporting the entrepreneurs who inspire her. As an event coordinator and curator, Faye activates communities and brings people together over shared passions and thoughtful conversations. Faye's design background combined with a natural tendency towards organization allows her to work collaboratively between creatives and those who are more business minded.