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Winter Wellbeing

Light sparkles… or disappears way too soon. Crisp fresh air cools the face… or bites and smarts. At this time of year we’re exposed to the elements with mixed feelings and thoughts. Our bodies and minds are naturally affected by the change in weather and low light, yet many of us overlook the significance of seasonal impacts on our lives. We all have a holistic range of needs. For mind and body to work in harmony, especially during challenging winter months, we can harness the very real opportunities all around us. Identifying what helps us feel well.

{ Hyperlinks in this article provide resources + insights }

It may seem obvious that we need to keep warm, but also - are you getting enough daylight; nourishment; rest; rejuvenation? Are you allowing and giving yourself the extra care and attention much needed at this time of year?

It’s So important in the darker, chilly months. The changing environment around us brings varying degrees of tangible impacts on our selves. Working with the change of season can bring greater comfort and joy, supporting mind, body and emotions.

A wonderful example is making sure to prioritise some Nature Connection each day. In fact it’s recommended that we spend at least two hours each week out in nature ~ Parks, woods and local green spaces. The coast if it’s close. There are a whole range of physiological and psychological benefits to be gained.

Getting out for a 30 - 60 minute walk, either in the morning or at lunch time can be the deciding factor in how your day pans out. Helping to head off that slump or dip in mood when the afternoon has descended into an early night sky!?

Stepping into your local park or forest when it’s still light. You might find that muddy ground has been covered in a fresh blanket of leaves. Along with your shoes staying clean, you’ll notice springtime shoots already preparing for next year and compacted buds on so many branches. Notice too the swooping of birds; dramatic tree silhouettes and morning mists floating over fields and waterways…

There is research that links mood with the amount of light we receive. Your eyes know what they love to see. Trust your instincts to get outside, or at very least, over to the window when the sun shines bright ~ Blink… but don’t miss it!

If you’re out and find a bench in a bright sunny spot, you could sit (on a foldable comfort mat of course! ) for 10 or 20 minutes, just letting the sunlight fill your peripheral vision; through closed eyelids; reflections ~ It can work real wonders, lifting the mood for the rest of the day.

If you’re working from home and it’s feasible, line up a few simple Outdoor chores, so when you need a break you can take that hot cuppa into the yard, chop a log or sweep some leaves. It might sound rustic but these timeless activities have been a grounding staple for centuries. Bringing a heightened sense of connection and calm to the greyest of days, especially now, when working at the digital coalface.

A key area in the body to be aware of in winter is the Back and Kidneys. Cold in these areas can quickly undermine that sense of wellbeing. Give them a warm hug with a hot water bottle, wrapped with scarf around the lower back. You’ll instantly welcome that pleasing warmth. Or stand up and give your kidneys a good rub, massaging with the backs of the hands for half a minute.

There is a familiar tendency in winter to withdraw and stay in cosy spaces, and though it’s great to hunker down or reflect and distil thoughts and ideas - make sure to balance this with social interaction each day. There’s a reason winter markets are so appealing ~ They represent micro adventures and friendly faces. Chance encounters and new exchanges can fill the social gap when the day has been mostly conducted inside or alone.

Winter can be such a glorious and beautiful time of year but we can quickly become disheartened by niggling thoughts if we don’t keep rumination in check.

‘Seeing yourself in a good light’ is much easier on a bright summers day! Pay attention to how you feel and consider what might give you a boost.

The body provides us with a fantastic scope for influencing the mind. The most widely appreciated these days is probably the impact of Physical Exercise. But there are many other ways to employ something physical to achieve a marked improvement in thinking and emotion <It works both ways of course> Mind and body in harmony. For example: If you feel pain you can consider a range of effective ways to bring relief; writing down tips for engaging the body in a soothing activity - such as self massage, a warm bath, or some gentle Qi gong practice.

What can be helpful is to prepare a simple Wellbeing Checklist. You might include the following headings and add ideas and ‘remedies’ you enjoy under each. That way, if you don’t feel great, you can explore what might be needed.

Temperature ~ Your body? Your environment? Extremities?

Light ~ Enough daylight? Less evening Blue light? A nice view?

Ergonomics ~ Sitting comfortably? Standing regularly?

Sounds ~ Concentration ok? Music or Binaural Beats to help?

Smell ~ Rosemary essential oil improves focus. Orange Zest!

WorkFlow ~ Distractions ltd? Moving freely? Taking breaks?

Rest & Rejuvenation ~ Meditation? Sofa time? Power nap?

This is obviously not an exhaustive list but you can develop it. Keep it relevant and personal to your own needs and awareness of wellbeing. Add new techniques too.

A simple example: If you notice your hands feel cold, can you warm them under hot running water for minute? There are in fact a number of ways to warm up the body and extremities ~ Keep building your own knowledge and resources. When something really works for you, it can become an embodied new habit.

You may even like to share it with others some time!


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