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Self-Care for the Winter

by Andrea Lamanto

Just as Nature contracts her energy in the winter, we too are called to pause during this season, which is a very sacred act.

Stopping and turning inwards is not supported in our society, where constant motion is demanded (often just to meet our basic needs) and constant distractions encouraged. Yet we know intuitively that we need rest and replenishment, and winter offers us a chance to do that.

Get curious about the darkness as a space in which to get to know yourself, as a place of restoration and fertility, as the incubator in which creative ideas and visions are born. The quiet and dark days of winter allow us to reconnect with our Self, with what lies deep within us  waiting to emerge. We need the darkness to sleep and dream up a new cycle in our lives.  

Physical, emotional and spiritual health is always about balance – amongst these different aspects of oursevles, with each other, and with our environment and the natural world. During winter, instead of refusing to look at the darkness OR getting stuck in it, unable to feel the light at all, we can open to a larger understanding of the season. 

We let ourselves slow down, we take extra care to nourish our bodies and spirits. Here are some suggestions for that include: 

  1. Bring balance to the darkness by getting yourself into sunlight whenever possible.
  2. Use citrusy essential oils such as lemon and blood orange to brighten your mood (studding a small orange with whole cloves has a similar effect). Stimulating and antimicrobial aromatics such as rosemary, eucalyptus and peppermint support mental clarity, expansive breathing and immunity.
  3. Soothe and fortify yourself with warm and dark-colored foods: soups, root vegetables, black and kidney beans, sea vegetables and miso (in moderation). Remember that winter is your time to rebuild, not cleanse, yourself.
  4. Minimize sensory input (extreme lights, sounds) where possible. Consider taking a social media break.
  5. Make space for even 5 minutes of meditation each evening, in the darkness and stillness. Prepare a beautiful and gentle area for this with candles or dim or twinkling lights and incense if you’d like. Ground yourself by breathing into each part of your body. All you have to do is observe that breath and bring your attention back to it when it wanders. Feel the life within you with each inhalation. Feel the release in each exhalation.