Remember Mindfulness? Last year we were all about it, but this year, well, hopefully we're all living mindful lives already and that's why we're not hearing so much about it. But just in case you're new to mindfulness, this post is for you. And hey, even if you're an old hat at this mindfulness thing, maybe this post can offer you a little bit of winter inspiration (wintsperation??)
It’s hard to hide from the fact we are now in winter, with so many places in the Northern hemisphere already experiencing snow flurries, if not a good deep layer of the white stuff! Although I am still waiting for the hills visible from my office to gain their white winter crown, the nights are already growing chilly and the daylight hours are growing ever shorter.
Despite being an Australian, winter and I have always had a deep connection and a bit of a love affair. Summer and I don’t get along so well, and I thoroughly enjoy the fact that come the colder months I can dress up in my favourite rich textures, cable knits, and most importantly – lots and lots of accessories! I mean sure you can accessorise in summer, but I much prefer a cute beret to a sunhat!
But we’re not here to talk about how much I adore winter, but instead how easy it is to succumb to the Winter Blues, or Seasonal Affective Disorder. When the days are short, many of us who work in offices will both arrive to and depart from work in darkness, and that all important Vitamin D is in very little supply. It’s inevitable that we’ll begin to withdraw into our homes, lose energy, motivation and inspiration.
After all, the long nights and cold days, wind rattling at the window panes, and the echoes of wolves howling in the distance, instills a primal fear into the hearts of even the most winter-savy person. And that’s why it is so essential to put on a brave face despite the seasonal changes and more importantly to have a mindful winter.
By including mindful practices into your daily routine throughout winter, you can help alleviate or at least somewhat lessen the negative impact SAD may have on your life. Plus, mindfulness isn’t just for winter or when you’re feeling down – it’s a practice that’s useful throughout the entire year and can have an immensely positive effect on your physical and mental health.
How to have a Mindful Winter
It’s cold, and so comfort food is easy to indulge in if not most people’s preferred winter treat. However, the lethargy that comes with overindulging, especially in carb-heavy and stodgy foods, won’t make you feel any better. Although a bowl of pasta might make you feel good right now, unless you’re burning those carbs by hitting the gym or going for a long hill walk, you’ll regret it tomorrow! Try eating seasonal foods, as well as foods rich in Vitamin D and Omega 3.
No one wants to go out and about when it’s cold and raining, however winter isn’t only full of cloudy, rainy days - if the sun is out, you can be too! Put on a thick coat, and go for a relaxing stroll, and remember a cooler body has a more efficient mind so winter is essentially the perfect time to get your mind into gear. Going for a walk in winter will not only help clear your mind but also help you relax and reconnect with nature, which can be all too easily forgotten once the snow comes. However, if you don’t want to brave the weather, there’s always plenty of indoor activities to participate in to get your blood flowing, such as the gym, rock-climbing or even better (imho) – yoga!
Curling up on the sofa, buried beneath a layer of blankets doesn’t mean you have to put your mind into stand-by, and as mentioned previously, the .cooler temperatures throughout winter actually help with mental acuity. Rather than switching on TV, try reading a new book or listening to some music to either stimulate your mind, or to help it relax. Keeping our minds active in winter is essential and helps keep depression, boredom and fatigue at bay.
Although these may seem obvious and simple, mindfulness is all about making sure you make time for you and your environment, which if you're struggling with the cold, dark, and lack of sunlight, is incredibly important both physical and mentally. Whether your self care routine involves the perfect cup of tea, or a scented bath, don’t forget to continue to practice these routines over the next few months, no matter how weary you may be. To read more about Self Care, click here.
Honorable mention: Christmas
Although there’s a few more months of cold after Christmas, this day falls close to the Winter Solstice, aka the longest night of the year. After the solstice the days begin slowly, but surely, to grow longer once more, which will come as a relief to any person with the Winter Blues.
In addition to the solstice, Christmas is a time for giving, for being surrounded by friends and family. It’s a time to revel in the delight that is winter with sparkling lights and fanciful food, all of course whilst surrounded by fairy lights. Although the Festive season only lasts a month, embrace it wholeheartedly and you won’t even notice the weather!
Although these mindful practices are only small changes, they can have a huge impact of your physical and mental health. Winter doesn’t have to mean less energy in our lives, but it also doesn’t mean we have to be out and about catching pneumonia in the name of mindfulness. At the end of the day (or season), it’s about ensuring you’re looking after yourself, and maintaining the healthiest lifestyle you can throughout the next few months.
Do you practice mindfulness?