As we head into February, many of us find ourselves battling that negative voice reminding us that we haven’t yet accomplished all of our New Year’s goals. We may begin the year with a burst of energy and lots of dreams. We’re anxious to accomplish everything and put all the new habits in place all at once, but often it doesn’t happen as quickly as planned. We feel guilty when our natural energy doesn’t seem up to all the tasks, and may end up giving up on our goals instead of taking small, meaningful steps toward them, in alignment with the season and our energy level. In addition to the weather, this can be a chief contributor to the “winter blues”!
There is a tension between the start of a new year and the burst of energy it brings, with goals set and lists to be accomplished and the natural rhythms of winter when our bodies naturally want to slow the pace. Our bodies naturally need more sleep and restoration, our minds need more self-reflection, planning, dreaming, journaling and our hearts need more connection.
In our modern world, there is little regard for the natural order and flow and earth’s cycles. Throughout the history of time, schedules, routines and duties have shifted according to how the light and seasons shifted. Today, we push through all seasons with the same schedules, routines, and responsibilities, because the modern world requires us to. We no longer live based on seasonal rhythms, and we don’t have much of a choice about it. Still, the natural order of things does not stay the same and our bodies know it. So, we pay the price, physically, in the winter, with broken down immune systems and mentally with symptoms of seasonal affective disorder, and increased negativity, anxiety and depression.
Winter can be a vital season of personal growth, when we honor the changes it requires and establish routines that flow with the season and stop battling against nature. Winter is not meant to be a season of hustle and full speed ahead, so let’s embrace that and come out on the other side, restored and ready for Spring renewal, growth and energy!
Here are a few of my favorite ways to beat the winter blues and embrace winter as an opportunity for renewal and not the dreaded space between Fall and Spring. I hope it will help your winter mindset as well!
- Embrace needing more sleep. Go to bed earlier and sleep a little later than normal. And don’t feel guilty about it!
- Feed your body nourishing comfort foods that are warming and supportive of the season, like nutrient dense soups, or roasted root vegetables with lots of warming spices like cinnamon or cayenne.
- Bundle up appropriately and get outside for long walks with someone you love, or your dog!
- Drink lots of teas and other nourishing warm drinks.
- Treat yourself to an infrared sauna or some hot yoga classes and break a good sweat.
- Dress cozy, warm and comfortable.
- Relax by the fire.
- Organize and refresh your interior environment.
- Read great books. Learn something new!
- Exercise to boost positive energy and outlook.
- Make a vision board full of the things you’re looking forward to and dreaming about.
- Prioritize close connection with others
- Make time for inner reflection. Plan and dream and learn and grow mentally and spiritually.
And when the sun is out, turn your face towards it and know that warmer, more energetic days are ahead.
The winter will end, but in the meantime, let’s make it work for us, not against us!
Let us know your favorite tips for surviving winter in the comments!