For this winter solstice season, I am spending time preparing to bring more calm and healing to my body which seems to be under siege by a series of viral infections and the aftereffects, unsupported by the stressors and grief of these times. I will never stop looking for the helpers, the gifts, the beauty, and the awe, and I strive to offer the same for others, but right now, my body is asking me for an extra dose of nurturing here at home, in the everyday habits and lifestyle choices. After checking in with a few internet gurus on the topic of simplifying and calming, I've pulled together a list to pin to my board. I hope there are some tips here that resonate with you.
Self-Care Habits for a Calm and Restful Winter Season
1.) Create Boundaries for Self-Care: Make a Seasonal What I Want List and What I Don’t Want List
2.) Prioritize Sleep: Add more time spent in bed––– reading, sleeping, and snuggling up to a loved one. Avoid screen time before bed and in bed. Plan to give yourself extra time to linger in bed in the morning. If you can, rest more in the afternoon, too, nap, or lie down on the couch with your feet elevated (even for just fifteen minutes).
3.) Engage in "Gentle and Joyful" Exercise: Walk in Nature, Practice Yoga, Dance in the Living Room
4.) Scheduling White Space: Give your calendar (and your nervous system) a daily break for you to recharge. This is for “do nothing” time. Daydream. Gaze out the window. Sip a cup of tea. Just you, no phone, no podcast. Connect with the breath.
5.) Retreat from things that overstimulate you ahead of time or as needed. Alone time! Even a brief retreat, taking moments away from an overly noisy or active group or a busy environment in a calm space can help, especially during busy holiday gatherings.
6.) Take a shower or bath just for the calming pleasure of it, no washing or foaming up and shaving, but simply experiencing the warm water washing over the skin for a few minutes or the feeling of being held in warm water with a few drops of lavender oil.
7.) Take care of your home environment. Minimalize, clear away stuff, de-clutter, creating visual clarity. Conduct cleansing rituals.
8.) Give yourself care, as a parent to a child, but you to yourself. Place one hand on your bare chest and the other on your belly. Connect with your body and breathe. Massage your feet, your hands and arms, your shoulders. Or schedule a massage. Any sensory activity will do. Be creative.
9.) Prioritize fun and pleasurable activities ahead of the to-do list at least once a week. This includes spending time in nature and being creative for me. For me, it’s writing a poem or making a collage before going to the store or vacuuming the house. Otherwise, I might never get to the best stuff.
Note: This time of year, I've enjoyed making some decorations I would normally buy already made. It was so satisfying. I wrote a piece about how I know this for Decor Maine. Here's the link to read it.
10.) Re-Charge the Heart: Experience beauty. Whatever that means to you. Try and activate all of your senses.
Note: Remember that wonderful conversation with Krista Tippet and Dacher Keltner on the topic of awe I posted about last winter? If you need inspiration, take a listen or re-visit this beautiful offering: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K-0JpJjPe74
~ Use the solstice time as an opportunity to think of new beginnings in a new way. Instead of resolutions, have-tos, and shoulds that can be stressful, how about making two lists? At the top of your paper write What I Want (in the spirit of visioning) and on the top of another paper write, What I Don't Want (in the spirit of creating boundaries). Remember when we made those balance mobiles? That was a similar practice.
~ Once you have two lists you are satisfied with, take out a large piece of art paper and create a visual image that illustrates both the desires and the boundaries at play in the piece. Perhaps you want to be literal and draw a large circle in the center of the paper. Everything you want (word or image) goes on the inside and everything you do not want (word or image) goes on the outside.
~ As you work, pay attention to what memories or stories pop into your head and jot them down on a scrap paper near at hand. When you are finished with your piece, take a step back. Choose one of your boundaries, what you wish to banish, set your timer for twenty minutes, and write about it. Next, do the same with one of your desires.
~ Make something! :)