The all too familiar chill in the air has returned to herald the arrival of winter. A season of majestic beauty full of merriment and the anticipation of the holidays, and for many, the stress and sometimes depression. Winter can be an amazing time of year. The opportunity to enjoy it must be seized and embraced, though for some of us that might seem just about as easy as jumping and seizing a helium filled balloon from the ceiling.
This year join me. Curl up, unwind and enjoy this beautiful season. That’s it. The secret to the season is to choose to invest time in yourself. As the weather grows colder before the rush of the holidays, things begin to slow down. We retreat into the warmth of our houses and brace ourselves for the long winter ahead. You can avoid cabin fever and find ways to enjoy this time in the comfort and coziness of your home.
Take a moment to pause here. Go light a fire in your hearth, or a few candles. Brew yourself some herbal tea. And find yourself a good notebook, one that you can return to again and again this winter.
Create your curl up spot - find a place in your home, whether it’s on your couch, in your bed or on a zafu. Grab a blanket or a comfortable sweater, and bin bag or drawer for your journal, writing utensils and other relaxation essentials. This could be the very place that you choose for your home practice. It should be somewhere that you can completely relax.
Gather your favorite relaxation essentials - a journal, a good book (whether it’s an old favorite or a new gem), some writing or drawing supplies, candles, lavender or your favorite essential oils, and maybe some headphones to play your favorite relaxing music.
Schedule Your "Me Time" - it sounds silly to pencil relaxation into your calendar, but this will help you to stick with it, especially when the holidays begin to draw closer and schedules start to fill up. Make a date with yourself!
The three steps above will help to prepare you for a season of bliss and relaxation, but you will only go as far as you practice. Now let’s take a look at putting some of the items that we gathered into the previous steps to use.
Home Practice - If you have not yet started a home practice for either yoga or meditation, my friend you are in the perfect place. Gaia has an incredible amount of videos from different yogis and specialists around the world. Now is the best time to bring your practice into your home. Roll out your mat in your curl up spot and melt the stress away.
Journaling - What are some of the causes of stress in our lives? Thoughts piling up in our heads, a shift away from what matters, losing yourself in the root of your stress. Journaling is a number of tools rolled into one.
- Writing your thoughts out, shorthand or long form is extremely cathartic. When thoughts exist purely within your head, they are left there to rattle around. Writing them down draws them out into the open, formalizes them and allows you to confront or evaluate them.
- Gratitude lists can help draw our focus back to what really matters in our lives so that we stop worrying about the things that are not important. When you get to the heart of what matters in your life - a roof over your head, a family who loves you, lack of debilitating conditions or illnesses - it becomes easier to let go of the things that don’t matter and that are causing you stress.
- Action plans are a great way to organize your thoughts, while getting them out of your head. Now that you have written down your thoughts and emotions, you can take a look at what you need or would like to do to affect positive change. This can be as simple as writing down your Christmas list or the things you need to do to host that next get-together. It takes a load off of your mind.
Coloring - Doodling, coloring or any form of art can be extremely relaxing. Grab a mandala coloring book, print a free design online, or just doodle away your stress. Crafting before the holidays, and even crafting your gifts, is a great way to reduce stress, boost your creative energy and have fun!
Reading - What would you give to be transported away, to another time or place? How about a trip to the library? Books are a great way to both relieve stress and boost your intelligence. Studies show that your brain continues to reap the benefits of reading long after you put the book down.
Music - Whether by itself, or paired with another activity like meditation, reading or writing, music has incredible powers of relaxation. Choose something that fits your mood and let the relaxation begin.
So, don’t delay. Schedule time for yourself now so that you can be more present and more grounded and relaxed for the busy winter season ahead. You’ll be glad you did!