Self Care for the Winter

The days are darker, things seem a little harder, old memories seem to arise more easily. It’s cold. Maybe you feel sad, or sluggish, or frustrated. Winter is prime time for feeling blah and we’re more likely to pull away even more, isolate ourselves, and feel worse.

To help you navigate through this winter season, I have some ideas for how to take care of yourself. You’ve probably spent years caring for your intellectual development, growing a family, and doing your share for the communities around you. But, often, your  relationships and your self-aspect are hurting because you haven’t taken enough time to truly care for yourself.

Self -care isn’t necessarily about spending money. It’s about understanding your need for balance and good self-perspective and knowing how to go about getting it.

When you do have time, you wonder what self-care should look like? Here are some ideas for meaningful and restorative self-care.

Get Connected:

We need connection to other people. We are wired for it, and we are not getting enough human connection. It’s easy to slip into sadness and a mild depression from lack of robust social interaction. That might look different for everyone. Connection doesn’t mean depleting your resources, it means sharing your life with other people in a restorative way.

My challenge to you is to truly connect with someone in your life. This person could be a good friend, your partner, your sibling – whoever it is you trust. Tell them about a recent set-back, a recent win at work, a private struggle – whatever you want to talk about. But share openly. Connection happens when you are vulnerable with someone whom you can trust. And listen to them when they tell you their stories. Sharing true human experiences on this level can help you feel less alone.

If you’re struggling with this type of connection, you may consider therapy. I’m an advocate of therapy (not just because I’m a therapist). I see it as a training ground. Good therapy, I believe, can help you figure out how to deepen your connections and express yourself in a vulnerable way to others.

Get Social: 

I make a distinction between connecting with people and being social. Being social is about meeting new people, doing new things, and possibly having some fun. As a new mom, you may want new mom friends, or as a soccer player, you may want to join a local soccer league, or as a knitter, you may want to do a knitting workshop with others who share the same interest. Going out and meeting new people is a risk – it takes time, energy, and perhaps some small talk. Consider how much time you want to spend and how you want to spend it (for example: one afternoon, doing a group hike). It might be worth it to make new friends, learn about yourself, to get support in a new area of your life, and to take up the challenge of finding connection in other (unexpected) places.

Get Playful: 

Watching small children play can be a reminder of how inventiveness and imagination has always come naturally to us: a stick becomes a pet; a box becomes a cave or a car; crayons write everywhere (not just on paper!); turning upside down is just as interesting as being right-side-up. If you aren’t around small kids in your life, think about the times in your life you worked on an art project or experimented with a recipe- or learned to hoola hoop.

In our regimented, scheduled lives, there is often little time or space for free play: a time when we can let loose a little, bend the rules, and tap into our creative energy. Creative play is how kids make sense of the world. It can also be how we, as adults, process our emotions or get into a meditative flow. It is this space where we can relax, de-stress, and maybe come up with new ideas.

Making something tangible can also help you feel like you’ve accomplished something. I personally love that feeling- hanging up a photo you took, wearing a hat you knitted, or using a mug you made at a pottery studio. I find that creating makes us feel like we have purpose and capability. And seeing the finished product can be satisfying and even useful.

 

Know your boundaries

I’m guessing you derive pleasure from being helpful to your loved ones, being present, being a care-taker, but you inadvertently overextend yourself in that process. This has the opposite effect of what you wanted- you may feel resentful of the ones you are trying so hard to help. It’s hard to get the balance right. The weather outside doesn’t help a lot of us, either.

The winter months can make us feel even more depleted. Making time for yourself means that you can re-engage with your relationships from a place of balance and health. And learning to tune in to that desire for reconnection with others and the desire for fun helps you ward off the inevitable agitation, frustration and limit of resources you have when you are running on empty or experiencing the ‘winter blues’. Whether your vital relationships include parenting, a marriage, or important clients, each of these individuals will unknowingly benefit if you take responsibility for your needs.

Carve out space for yourself. Get connected to your friends. Get social in your community. Get playful in your approach. Get in the habit of thinking about your care as the best way to be whole and present for your job, your relationships, and for your health.

Having trouble connecting with others in a meaningful way or finding your joy? Reach out, maybe I can be of help to you.