I quite like winter, I do.
Summer in Brighton is gorgeous obviously. All that sea swimming and BBQs on the beach. All the day festivals and alfresco drinks with friends in the evenings.
Winter is special too though. It always comes around just at the right time, when I’m ready to hibernate for a little while.
Still, the winter blues can get to me and although I like cosy nights in for myself it’s important to approach winter mindfully, aware that we are getting less light, often less social time, shorter days and longer nights. This can lead to a drop in serotonin and even bring on the seasonal affective disorder (SAD).
During this long season, I like to introduce some rituals and winter wellness practises to ensure I’m looking after my wellbeing and that of those around me. So, I thought I’d share some of my top tips for winter wellness with you, my lovelies:
Health And Home Cooking
Not only is home cooking the best tasting but on cold, dark days it’s lovely to spend some time in the kitchen. In summer everything is too hectic, but winter is a great time to try new recipes. I especially love cooking with the kids which keeps them away from screens and gives us some proper family time.
If you’re not a confident cook or if your time in the evenings is limited then recipe boxes can be a great way to try new foods and learn cooking techniques. Prep and cooking time usually comes in at under 30 minutes and most kits include the ingredients, taking some of the shopping off your list. Hello Fresh and Gousto have some competitive introductory offers and they might have even more in January.
If you’re trying Veganuary in the New Year then that’s a great way to reduce your carbon footprint and it can lead to a healthier lifestyle too. However, it’s important not to underestimate the effect a change in diet can have on your mood and your energy. Before undertaking Veganuary, make sure you've planned out some meals, have some knowledge of which plant-based foods will give you the nutrients you need and focus on getting more fresh fruit and veg in your diet, rather than opting for the highly processed meat-free options. Those are likely to contain excess sugars, fats and salts that may spike and then deflate your energy, giving you very little real planty goodness.
The other benefit of home cooking in winter is the smell that fills the house. Nothing is better. It’s so good I sometimes fill the slow cooker with ingredients and stock in the morning. I leave it to cook away during the day and then return to the gorgeous aroma. There's something very comforting about walking back through the door and having a gorgeous meal waiting to warm me up.
Hygge For Winter Wellness
The Danish are experts at doing winter wellness because their winters are so very long and so very dark. That’s why they have hygge. Hygge doesn’t directly translate into English but it basically refers to the moments and/or experiences that bring a peaceful kind of joy and gratitude or comfort. It’s as much about mindset as anything else - about taking the time to enjoy the little things.
If you’ve come across the term ‘Hygge’ then it probably summons up images of blankets, hot chocolate, a candle and a good book. Or something similar. Certainly hygge is about creating those cosy moments that release all the good feels with minimal effort. With a focus on comfort and minimalism, hygge can help you find your way to surrendering to those winter nights and indulging in some no-frills, down-to-earth, self-care.
However, a state of hygge is also reached in social experiences. It’s a common misconception that hygge is an indoor solo experience. Actually, the Danish refer to moments of hygge when meeting a friend for coffee, going for a walk with a loved one, sharing a meal with someone or even having storytime with children. A little ‘you’ time in winter is great but it is so easy to forget to socialise and spending time with people we care about is essential for wellness. To experience hygge in company it’s essential to be present in the moment, not checking your phone or worrying about things you have to do next but focusing on what you’re doing and who you’re with. Hygge is about creating scenarios where you are present enough to cultivate the joy that derives from small pleasures.
Rituals Not Routines
Winter can be so long and that makes it very mundane. I’m ok at first - I’m getting my blankets out of the cupboards, pulling on my bobble hat and prepping the house for nesting. A month on though and the novelty has worn off. I’m a bit fed up with soup and wellies and having an ice-cold nose every time I leave the house. When you have the same routine in winter as you do in summer it can feel a lot worse. After all, it’s all the same things but in the wet and wind - still the school run, still the food shop, still the gym, still work and Sundays seeing family - but now it’s gloomy and chilly. Therefore, I find it helpful to change things up just a little bit. Obviously, there’s a lot that can’t be changed but introducing a new ritual or two can be uplifting in the winter months. Perhaps it’s half an hour of yoga at lunchtime or 10 minutes of meditation before bed. Or maybe it’s taking up a new craft or a new sport, perhaps even a team sport to ensure you keep it up?
Having something different that you do, that belongs to the winter months can make them more appealing, and give you something to look forward to and be grateful for. Plus, continued learning and development are excellent for our wellbeing and are so easy to neglect in winter when we can feel a little less motivated.
Note, I use the word rituals rather than routines because this is about consciously and mindfully indulging in activities for your winter wellness, rather than simply adding to your daily routine.
Spending time in nature is as beneficial in winter as it is in summer months. Even more so because we have fewer daylight hours. Sunlight, even winter sunlight, is really important because it boosts serotonin and melatonin which helps us to sleep and balances our mood. Furthermore, it provides essential vitamin D.
During the colder months, it can be tempting to stay indoors where it is warm and there’s Netflix, but getting outside is needed to maintain wellbeing. Not only do we breathe better outdoors, but it gives us a chance to stretch both our legs and our minds. Too much time spent indoors can make it difficult to maintain perspective and small problems can become big issues, which is why it’s important to venture out into mother nature’s big wide open and remember what’s really important.
Winter walks are sometimes difficult to get motivated for but, once started, I actually love the crisp cool air and the landscape is different in winter too. It’s also good for your skin and can help you to sleep better.
Why Winter Wellness Is Important
Whilst looking after ourselves should always be a priority it is even more so in winter when we can tend to become reclusive. We’re also getting less of the vitamins and hormones we need. This winter though, many of us are also contending with a cost of living crisis which may make us less inclined to venture out. We may also find ourselves neglecting self-care and work-life balance. It is at these times that it is more essential than ever to make time for ourselves and be mindful in our approach to winter wellness.
Don't forget to take care of your skin too. It will dry out quicker in the colder months and need more moisture. If this is the case, I would recommend The Eternal for all skin types. For Rosacea and Eczema sufferers, you will notice more flare ups as the temperature dramatically changes from hot to cold. So for Rosacea, use The Radiance, and for Eczema I would recommend The Exquisite.
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