It's official: The cold weather is here, and many of us are getting ready to hunker down for a winter that feels especially oppressive thanks to a pandemic that's still raging on.
Between spending the holidays away from loved ones and it feeling impossible to spend more than a few minutes outside depending on where you live, if you feel a little bit of dread every time the sun sets at 4:30 p.m., you're not alone.
One thing that can help? A self-care practice geared toward colder temperatures and the introspective, quiet nature of winter. We've rounded up the very best expert-backed ways to tweak your self-care practice for the next few months. Here are some ideas.
Healthy boundaries are always a good idea, especially in a season when your body craves turning inward. "Protect your precious time and energy. It’s important to learn how to say 'no' to things that over-extend you and instead make time for things that matter more," says life coach Dana Humphrey. "When you do this, you slow down life in a wonderful way. Creating boundaries and learning to say no also helps to bring your goals into sharper focus. You will feel happier and more productive."
Take a walk
Yes, you may have to bundle up to practice this one. But staying in touch with nature, even when it's cold outside, is important. "Walking has been shown to be valuable in improving mental health, particularly depression, so it is important to try and walk daily," says Humphrey. "When you do go for a walk, set your focus on just the experience of walking and your surroundings. For example; your feet on the ground, the fresh air, sunshine, birds singing, etc. Be mindful, embrace each step and you will be sure to feel rejuvenated afterwards."
Dancing to your favorite song is an excellent way to warm up your body and release tension. "Studies show that dance can help you lose weight, stay flexible, reduce stress, make friends, and so much more," says Humphrey. "You can achieve a good dance session right in the comfort of your home. Dance is so much more than exercise – it’s about getting to know you. So dance like nobody is watching and reap the many benefits that come along with it!"
Wake up with a smile
This simple self-care tip can be a game-changer, especially in this winter months when people are more prone to feeling down. "Our smile creates a calming effect. It's the best way to start the day and sets to the tone for our day," says certified wellness practitioner Adessa Barker. "So often we dive into the chaos of the day seldom taking time to order our day. By starting with a smile, we're saying that today is going to be a good day."
When we're kind to others it's a natural boost to our self esteem, and it helps us feel good. "Think of a few friends, colleagues, neighbors or people who need a bit of encouragement," suggests Barker. "Choose one person and send a kind note, email, text or phone call. This will light a fire to your day. You will feel the warmth from this simply act."
Make a big pot of soup
Shay Magditch founder and head coach at Wild RootsFitness, suggests making warming, comforting meals as often as possible. "A half hour or prep time and a few hours of cook time can yield a healthy, homemade meal that can be portioned out for future meals and even frozen to be reheated on a day you're too busy to cook."
Clean up your sleep hygiene and follow winter daylight cycles.
Winter is a season when we're meant to get more rest, so doing your best to get enough sleep is crucial, especially if you're feeling anxious or depressed with year. "Spend 30 minutes prior to bedtime winding down: dim the lights, drink a warm cup of decaffeinated tea, power off all electronics, spend time journaling or catching up with family," says Magditch. "Use a white noise machine or wear ear plugs if you wake up easily during the night."
Also, follow winter daylight cycles. "Wake up and go to bed earlier, Schedule your most energy-requiring tasking for late morning when our energy level tends to be highest."
Start a gratitude journal
We're huge advocates of gratitude journaling here at Silk + Sonder, and that's especially true during the dark days of winter. "Write one sentence each day expressing something you are thankful for," says Magditch. "Read this journal when you are having a bad day and in need of a reminder of the positive things in life."
Talk to a mental health expert
Talking to a therapist or other mental health expert is never a bad idea, and luckily there are a lot of virtual, COVID-friendly options available. "If you cannot seem to shake negative emotions or unhealthy behavior patterns, schedule an appointment with a therapist," says Magditch. "Seasonal Affective Disorder is real and dark, cold, short days can drastically impact mental health. Make a promise to yourself that you can and will become a better version of you."
Want to take the next step on your personal development journey? Head to our website and become a Silk + Sonder member today!