It’s that time of year when the days are shorter (and colder) and the nights are longer. All too often we ignore the season we’re in acting like it’s summer year round in terms of a go go go energy and our bodies can suffer the consequences from the lack of appropriate seasonal self-care. Living with the seasons and honoring winter is not only better for your body but can be fun too!
Here are three self-care activities you might enjoy exploring this winter 🙂
1) Practice Hygge. Hygge is a Danish phrase that refers to the “quality of coziness and comfortable conviviality that engenders a feeling of contentment or well-being.” In Denmark, despite being one of the coldest and darkest places in the world, the quality of life and happiness is also one of the best. The apparent contradiction exists largely because of their practice of Hygge – a word and cultural concept that doesn’t translate easily to English but probably should. So what does Hygge look like in practice? It might mean anything from sipping a hot cup of cocoa by the fire and cozying up to a book, to baking some delicious muffins or to having a few friends over for a cozy dinner and board game night. It’s basically whatever cozy and comfortable means to you. It means welcoming winter as an old friend and great excuse to do all the cozy things you can think of!
2) Try an Ayurvedic Oil Massage. If you’re not a yogi or hippie, this may sound a little “out there,” but I promise it’s worth a try. Basically, in the winter months our skin tends to get extra dry. According to Ayurveda the first part of winter is “Vata” season which has affiliations with dryness. It goes deeper than just dry skin though and means your joints could use some lubrication too. The idea with an oil massage is that you are lubricating your skin and joints equaling a happier body. It can be a wonderful practice you can do year-round but I find it especially beneficial in the winter. You also don’t need to pay for a professional massage (and yes professional ayurvedic oil massages do exist), simply get some of the oil that is best for your body constitution and apply liberally all over your body. As for what kind of oil to get this depends on your body type according to Ayurveda. If you are tall and lanky and tend towards dry skin anyway, you are more of a “Vata” type and an oil like sesame is your friend. If you tend to be a little more sluggish and heavy set with oily skin, you are likely “Kappha” and would also benefit from a warming, invigorating oil like sesame. If you are a medium strong frame and have difficulties with spicey food, you are likely “Pitta” and a more cooling oil like coconut will be ideal. Of course, these are just basic descriptions of the types. If you really want to get into it you can consult with an Ayurvedic practitioner or as a starting point take a fun self-assessment quiz like this one https://chopra.com/dosha-quiz. You can also get an oil combination if you’re not sure or just don’t want a single oil. My fav is Banyan Botanicals “Daily Massage Oil”.
3) Play outside. Just because it’s cold doesn’t mean you have to stay inside all winter. You’ll miss out on all the winter fun (aka snow … at least if you live up north!). All you need is a shift in perspective and some good cold weather gear and the world is your oyster. Trust if a Texas born Maine transplant can learn to enjoy cold weather activities, there is hope for you too. Think winter hiking (all the awesomeness of other season hiking and fewer people so you’ll have nature all to yourself), skiing (I recently picked up cross country and it’s a blast), ice skating or even just bringing out your inner child for some good old-fashioned sledding and snowman building fun. Speaking for myself, a big part of shifting from being afraid of the cold to loving winter has been reframing cold and winter as this big scary entity I don’t want to face to an old friend with lots of fun to be had. Also layers really do work – I’ve been surprised how hot I’ve gotten on some ski or winter hiking adventures!
What kind of self-care activities do you practice in the winter?