The earth’s seasons are not so dissimilar to the natural ebb and flow of life itself. While we all have differing day-to-day experiences, each season offers unique gifts that we all can embrace if we choose. For example, while spring’s warmth and light may evoke feelings of rejuvenation or new beginnings, the coolness and darkness of winter offer us an opportunity to embrace stillness, slow down, and restore ourselves. As Angie Weiland-Crosby beautifully describes, “Winter knows to hush, still, listen, so the soul can speak.”Here are a few winter wellness strategies to help you tune into the energies of this calmer, quiet season:
1. Daily Gratitude Practice
Spend at least five minutes each day thinking about what you feel grateful for in your life. Write it down if you’d like. Think about people that you love, places that make you feel safe, and anything else in your life that brings you joy.
2. Practice Mindful Eating
Winter offers so many unique flavors and nourishing seasonal produce. Next time you eat or drink a winter favorite like root vegetable soup or peppermint cocoa, focus fully on your experience. Notice the scents, flavor, mouthfeel, and texture of your snack or meal and how you feel afterward.
3. Explore Slow Movement
While winter weather may prevent us from participating in some of our favorite outdoor activities, it also provides an opportunity to explore slower forms of movement that we can practice indoors, such as yoga, Tai Chi, and deep stretching.
4. Mindful Winter Walks
Mindful walks are a healthy practice during any season, but winter can offer a unique, calming experience. Next time you are walking outside, notice some of these wintery gifts, such as the crunch of fallen leaves or snow with each step, the crispness of the air, and the general stillness of nature.
5. Practice Deep Breathing
Deep breathing is an incredibly peaceful practice, especially when we couple it with a cozy ritual. Intentionally slowing our breathing sends a signal to the brain that almost immediately restores our sense of calm. Click the link below for 10 free, festive breathing exercises:https://view.flodesk.com/pages/6192cdff3a0e5bcf6f5422c0
6. Reflective Journaling
Mindful self-reflection and journaling are also wonderful ways to reconnect with and restore ourselves during this quiet season. Cozy up with a blanket, notebook, and pen, and begin to reflect on how you are feeling on this particular winter day. Some journal prompts you might consider are:• I feel grateful for…• Winter provides me an opportunity to…• I am proud of myself for…
7. Connect with Old Friends
While hibernation is tempting during the winter, social connection remains an important part of self-care. Use this time to reconnect with someone that you love and miss. A quick postcard or phone call to a dear old friend does wonders for the soul.
8. Create Cozy Rituals
According to Everyday Health, nearly 20% of people experience seasonal mood shifts. Creating cozy rituals that you look forward to each day can be an incredibly effective way to stave off the winter blues. This could look like 30 minutes of fireside reading with your loved ones, morning coffee under a cozy blanket, or even festive movie nights.
Katie Plunkett is a K-12 public educator in Los Angeles, CA and the founder of The Calm Classroom (@thecalmclassroom), which specializes in mindfulness practice and mental health management for adults and children. Her passion for teaching wellness strategies grew from witnessing and experiencing high levels of stress among students and teachers in educational settings. She believes that intentionally practicing self-care and self-love are absolutely essential for maintaining mental health and overall wellness, especially for those working in helping professions. After all, in order to love and serve others, you must first love and serve yourself.