Winter is infamous for being cold, dark and depressing. But it doesn’t have to be that way. By changing your outlook on this chilly season, you can start a cathartic process of self-reflection as you prepare for a brighter, more peaceful year.
Covid-19 has forced millions to retreat into their homes, stuck with a sense of rumination and – in some cases – unhappiness. You may feel tired of endless isolation, too. But with a new year in sight and a vaccine around the corner, things are finally looking up.
With advice from lifestyle expert Dr. Selena Faiers, Naturopath and Healthcare Practitioner from British Columbia, this article will explore all the ways you can remain well by practising rest and self-reflection this winter.
Read on to discover why there’s never been a better time than winter 2021 for self-reflection, retreat and reconnection.
Rest and restore
For millennia, nature has used winter as a time to rest and retreat. Many animals go into hibernation, sleeping and recuperating their tired bodies, only to emerge energised and refreshed come spring.
Plants follow this cyclical cycle too, retreating and shedding their leaves during winter before budding again when the sunshine reappears. So why shouldn’t humans do the same?
You’re just as much a part of the natural world as animal and plants are. And you too can benefit from using winter to rest and restore yourself.
Dr. Faiers recommends going to sleep early and rising later than you usually would during the warmer months. This act of physical retreat is an important time to rest and maintain your body.
She says: “We live in a society of continual striving and exertion and we expect instant results and immediate answers. But nature has another idea: everything to its season.”
“If you follow nature’s way and take a winter rest, you’ll emerge into spring ready to go with restored energy, clear vision and a sense of purpose.” We couldn’t agree more.
So take a winter rest. Even by getting just 30 minutes more sleep each night, you’ll greatly assist your body in gathering strength for the coming year.
Release stagnant energy
What no longer serves you? Whether you’re harbouring resentment, anger or sadness from past or present experiences, there may be a few things that are holding you back.
It’s common to go over and over troubling emotions in your head, feeling worried or anxious about situations or outcomes. However, when you repeatedly dwell on negative emotions without releasing them, they can become stagnant. This harmful energy has a tangible impact your mind and body.
One way you can practise releasing these emotions is through self-reflection. Dr. Faiers recommends this wholeheartedly and says you should certainly schedule more time for your inner life.
“Use the energy of the season to discover more about yourself through reflection, reading, being more aware of your senses and paying attention to your dreams. The winter season is an especially good time to begin the practice of meditation.”
So, go inwards and get to know yourself better. One way is through trying meditation. Light a candle, get cosy and make time to focus on your breath.
Visualise yourself releasing old energy as you prepare for new beginnings and anytime your mind returns to its chattering emotions, just refocus and come back to the breath.
However, if meditation or mindfulness isn’t for you, then another effective way to reflect and release stagnant energy is through tapping into your flow state…
Lose yourself in flow state
Flow state, sometimes called deep play, refers to the experience of fluidity between your body and mind. You’re totally absorbed and deeply focused on something, beyond the point of distraction.
We’ve all experienced flow state at some point in our lives, especially during in childhood. You know when you’re trying to get a kid to come put their coat on but they’re fully immersed in a game or a jigsaw puzzle? Yep, they’re in flow state.
Unfortunately, as you get older, you often feel like you have less time for flow state. But that’s not the case. Even just five minutes of flow has proven to be beneficial to your mental health.
So how do you enter flow state? Well, you can flow through pretty much any activity you love doing. It has to be challenging enough to demand your full attention, but not so hard that you want to give up.
Some great examples of flow activities include:
- Doing a jigsaw puzzle
- Painting a picture
- Listening to music
- Practising yoga
- Doing a fitness video
- Jogging in nature
Just five minutes of flow a day will help you lead a more restful life and achieve peace and self-reflection this winter.
Choose warm, nourishing foods
This is super important. What we put in our body has a direct impact on our physical and mental health and scientific studies have long shown that healthy, nutritious foods are key for our bodies to function optimally.
Dr. Faiers says: “As the weather cools, the body needs to generate more warmth, so include more cooked foods and longer lasting complex carbohydrates in your meals.”
She suggests whole grains, squashes, beans, peas and sweet potatoes. Soups, stews and warm herbal teas are also great options to add warm nutrition to your table.
Warm foods include spices and herbs too. Think: Ginger, cinnamon and turmeric. You’re bound to know many more. You could stir some cinnamon into your oats in the morning, or add an extra teaspoon of turmeric to the pot when you’re cooking dinner.
There are tons of ways to warm up your recipes during the winter, so experiment and find what works for you.
Prompts for self-reflection
Reflect on some of these prompts and write down any responses you have to them in a journal. Or simply think them through in your mind as you rest.
- How can you make the most of the time you get alone?
- How can you share my feelings with those around me?
- What is one goal you want to achieve in 2021 and why?
- What are five positive qualities you love about yourself?
- How can you practice self-love?
- How do you calm any nerves you may be feeling?
- What can you do to grow this New Year?
- How do you embrace yourself, even if you’re different from what others expect?
- What are you most grateful for right now?
- Reflect on a past experience and how it has shaped you
- What motivates you most in life?
- Think about a time you felt most at peace. Where were you and why did you feel peaceful?
And there you have it. All the ways you can make this winter the perfect opportunity for self-reflection. Rest and restore, release stagnant energy, lose yourself in flow state and nourish your body with warming foods.
You’ll soon discover a stillness and peaceful state that will ready for you for Spring 2021 and the positivity that lies beyond. Stay well!