Be Prepared: Winter Self Care

By Maggie Glennon, M.Ed

As much as I enjoy a chilly day curled up by the fire with a cup of hot chai, I've noticed my mood waning and energy feeling a bit depleted. As the daylight dwindles and darkness sets in, I know the way I care for myself needs a seasonal adjustment, or I might find myself using the other ‘F-word’ instead of singing “Falalalala”. Experiencing this isn’t a novelty for me or many others, as the changes that occur in the Northern Hemisphere during this season have drastic effects on more than just scenery. Despite knowing this fact, it is all too easy to put ourselves on the back burner amongst the hustle and bustle of the holiday season. However, when we don’t get ahead of our winter self-care plan, the winter blues can hit hard once the solstice arrives, the presents are all open, and the celebrations cease.

A dip in our mood and energy is nothing to be ashamed of. Adjustments to how we take care of our bodies, minds, and spirits during this season can help greatly. Despite our bipedal nature and easy access to online shopping, we are, at our core, animals and this is a natural occurrence. After all, squirrels hoard acorns for winter, and summer birds migrate to warmer climates.

Just like you wouldn’t want to be caught in a snowstorm without a shovel, don’t let your winter blues catch you off guard this year. With a little awareness and intentionality, it’s possible to create a self-care routine that prepares us for transformation in spring or, at the very least, eases the sting of darker days. Here are some ideas to get you started!

Adjusting to the Pace of Winter

Winter carries a different energy than the other seasons. The adorable baby animals of spring and the warm sunlight of summer often turn us into to-do list warriors, checking off tasks with reckless abandon. When winter appears the items might not disappear as rapidly, and we might find ourselves opting for more sleep. While the extra time spent under your favorite quilt might feel great, the lingering items can cause our inner critic to act up. This is a perfect opportunity to practice self-compassion and remember that as animals, the desire to rest more is natural.

As you adapt your productivity to match the slower rhythm of winter, consider incorporating these affirmations into your self-care routine:

  • I embrace the natural ebb and flow of my energy.
  • I give myself permission to slow down and prioritize my well-being.
  • I embrace winter as a time for inner growth and self-reflection.

Journaling Prompts for Winter

Just as decaying leaves nourish the soil for spring growth, this season can prepare us for new beginnings. Winter lends itself well to introspection. Spending time getting to know your inner landscape doesn’t have to be daunting or intimidating. Practices like journaling and meditation are a perfect addition to your self-care toolbox during this season. Even setting aside 5-10 minutes once a week to jot down some thoughts can bring amazing insights and nourishment.

If you feel called to cozy up with a new journal here are some prompts to spark reflection:

  1. Reflect on transitions and transformations in your life this year. How have these changes shaped you, and what lessons have you gleaned?
  2. Fall signifies letting go, while winter heralds new beginnings. What do you wish to release as the year ends? How can you create room for fresh starts and new intentions during winter?
  3. Nature imparts lessons on impermanence, adaptation, and finding beauty in transitions. How might these lessons apply to your life journey?

Tips for Indoor Winter Self-Care

For those who seek refuge in their garden or find solace in building sandcastles, shifting to spending more time indoors can throw another curveball during the darker months. While modifying outdoor activities for winter is possible, sometimes there is no way around spending more time indoors, despite all the extra layers! Instead of focusing solely on the early sunsets and getting annoyed by the ice melt getting tracked into the house, experiment with ways to maximize your indoor space for your winter self-care. It’s important to remember what we have control over. While we can’t tell Mother Nature to hold off on the snow, we can move some furniture! Take these thoughts into consideration as you prepare your indoor space.

  • Maximize Natural Light: Rearrange furniture and adjust window treatments to capitalize on sunlight. Think about where you spend the most time. Are there ways to do these activities in areas with more light?
  • Bring the Outdoors In: During a season that lacks color investing in a few low-light indoor plants to keep you company can go a long way. You can also challenge yourself to take a nature walk to find some interesting natural elements to bring back home and craft with!
  • Create a Cozy Corner: Do you like to color? What’s your favorite candle? How about your favorite blanket? Pull together all of your favorite winter items to create a cozy corner. During a season when our energy tends to be a bit lower set yourself up for success by avoiding a scavenger hunt for your favorite self-care accessories! Imagine a quiet night reading in the company of your favorite seasonal scent.

Book Club: Wintering by Katherine May

Hosted by Cynthia Garrett, LMHC ,Madeline Farquharson, CPCC
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Preparation Makes All the Difference!

Adjusting our self-care to match the season can not only soften the blow of darker days but also set the stage for personal transformation come springtime. You don’t need to wait until January to get started!