This time of the year is so hard for me. The low light, the dark clouds, the sharp wind, all urge me to crawl into my cave with a big stack of pancakes and hibernate.
I see it on my face, feel it in my body, and experience it in my mind. Everything just wants to wind itself down and call it a year. I know I am not alone, many of you feel it too.
It happens every year and for some reason our modern society does not seem to observe the seasonal change. Even racoons, clearly the smarter species, go into the slowed down state of torpor.
I, for one, have come to accept that I must go into torpor as well as part of my self-care. Resistance has proven futile, only prolonging my suffering. So, I am accepting it. It sucks. I am learning to lean into it in hopes of moving through it, conserving my energy for the other side.
I accept that I will put on some winter weight. Yup. It will come as my metabolism slows and I eat heartier comfort foods. Not to say I am going to indulge in sugar and carbs, rather warm soups and stews, made with root veggies, squash and even pumpkin (but not that fake “spice flavoured” stuff– only real food please). Yes, real grounding foods - the ones that actually come from the earth and keep all winter. Stick to my ribs and insulate me please.
At night before bed, I wind down with Abhyanga, a self-massage prescribed by Ayurveda. For me, it is with the warming effects of sesame oil, applied before my evening meditation, and then washed off with a hot bath. Lately, I have been adding some eucalyptus Epsom salts. Heaven.
In the morning, my “sunrise alarm clock” wakes me up with light. It is key to my survival! After I take my dose of vitamin D, I turn on my my SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder) lamp for half an hour, allowing it to shine its light on me as I start my morning yoga, slowly and mindfully. May I feel the energy of the light! This mantra has proven to be key, and so have the warm flannel pajamas and wool socks in which I practice.
If I am lucky, my evening Self and my slow cooker have kindly made a pot of steel cut oats. It’s easier to get out of bed when the smell of apples and cinnamon are calling you.
I still work out in the morning, though my swim stroke is slower. I am oh-so grateful to the pool-keepers who keep the pool I swim in ridiculously warm. Speed is not my desired outcome. Being submerged in blue warmth is the goal.
Merino wool undergarments and socks become my best friends. They help keep my bones warm.
White lights brighten my office, creating a welcoming glow. The compassionate offer of a blanket or a cup of tea heats up those coming in from the cold, seeking comfort. It is the best medicine. The Scandinavians call it Hygge.
I am also making a point to reach out and connect with my friends who are also retreating into their caves. Please come over to mine. We need each other now more then ever. If that is too hard, I will come to you. Virtual Hygge is also welcome.
As the outer world changes its temperature and colour to cold and grey, daily routines become my anchor, giving me my bearings. I know this too shall pass. One day soon, I will look out the window and the world will be white with snow and brilliantly sunny. Then after a while, spring will arrive, the birds will sing and the flowers will bloom and the cycle will repeat again.
It happens every year.
What self-care practices do you incorporate to get through the dark days of winter?
SAD lamps can be purchased at your local home health care store or online. The recommended use is 10,000LUX in the morning for half an hour, with the light shining at your side, not face on. Some lights have lower dose setting as well for use later in the day. Do not use them in the late afternoon or evening as it will disrupt your circadian rhythm.
Click here for my slow-cooker oatmeal recipe.
Sign up to my blog for winter recipes. Hopefully, torpor won’t get the best of me. There may even be some videos if the light permits.