As fall gives way to winter, the energy in our bodies naturally decreases. Extra doses of self-love help us make the most of this restful time so we can blossom big come spring.
Letting go of high energy can be hard. Many times we resist this slow down, trying to energize with caffeine or pushing through. But if we nurture our bodies and souls, we can make the most of this season.
Yummy winter self-love practices for winter
1. Embrace the slow life
In our fast-paced world, many of us feel like failures if we’re not flying high all the time. Honor the body’s natural inclinations and move purposefully throughout the day.
Affirm to yourself frequently that it’s healthy to move slow. Love yourself enough to go at the pace that feels good to your body, even it doesn’t please your inner critic. Simplify by doing only what’s important to carve out extra time for solitude, rest, quality time with family and friends and meditation.
Sometimes the hardest part about slowing down is letting go of the idea that we’re not good enough unless we’re running around like crazy people. So repeating affirmations like, “Slowing down is sacred,” will help you connect to the high value of doing less and relaxing more.
2. Allow yourself extra sleep
Longer hours of darkness are a welcome invitation to more sleep, if your body is asking for it. Rest is the ultimate act of self-love. Try heading to bed 30 minutes earlier or sleeping later, if you can, preferably finding the right sleeping schedule that allows you to wake up without an alarm clock, or at the very least rested and not fatigued.
I believe a good day starts the night before, by getting to bed at a reasonable time. Some people flourish on seven hours of sleep while others need nine. We’re all different, but the most important thing is to find a routine that works for you.
3. Create rituals
I love having morning and evening rituals. They allow me to wake up slowly in the morning and shrug off any remaining anxieties at night. My morning ritual involves meditation and gentle movements before a healthy breakfast. At night, I meditate again and journal to process the day.
Sometimes, I’ll do yoga in the morning or at night, but I find it easier to commit to rituals with fewer elements. These comforting routines can easily become overly elaborate and take up too much time. The goal is for them to bring peace. Pick a few activities and try those for awhile before switching or adding on.
4. Try abhyanga
This Ayurvedic self-love ritual involves rubbing warm oil all over your body. Jojoba, coconut or sesame oils are good options. Heat the oil until it’s warm, but not hot on the insides of the wrists.
Start at the crown of the head, the crown chakra, and spend several minutes massaging the scalp. Then, move to your ears, your face, neck, and all the way down the body. Dedicate several minutes to the feet, as well. The feet contain nerve endings for many essential organs. After you’re oiled up, sit for a few moments and then shower or take a bath.
Ayurveda recommends doing this several times each week, but it’s a wonderful practice even if you just do it once in a while when you need some extra self-love or help reconnecting to your body.
At the very least, it’s awesome to moisturize before bed with a luxurious, all-natural cream. Buying a nice cream is a little luxury that makes you feel oh-so special every time you use it.
5. Practice restorative yoga
If you’ve been feeling tired and run down, restorative yoga is an awesome way to rejuvenate and heal on deep levels. If you’re doing this practice at home, it’s helpful to have two blocks and a thick blanket or comforter if you don’t have a bolster.
Here is a short sequence I created that you can do with props found at home.
Journaling is one of the most amazing ways to get to know yourself. When you write your worries on the paper, you suddenly see they’re not as horrible as they sounded in your head. Writing helps you process emotions and events, create new dreams for the future, and even listen to your higher self as it makes an occasional appearance, channeling through the pen.
I love journaling at night before bed, but it’s a good practice any time. Start with the words, “I feel,” and then go from there.
7. Review your life
In nature, winter is a time of hibernation. All of the blooms of summer have dried off and fallen away. We return to our essence, the root of ourselves. Part of the reason we’re able to slow down is because we simplify, focusing only on what’s important, unlike the expansiveness and light-heartedness of summer. In winter, we return home, celebrating our roots and traditions.
Many people love the expansive energy of summer — it’s fun and carefree — but sometimes that can lead us astray from our goals and purpose. Winter is the perfect time to review your entire life, thinking upon old lessons with your new-found wisdom, giving thanks for all you’ve overcome, and listening to your heart for new guidance. I’m not suggesting you spend the next four months doing this, but allow the intention to percolate in your mind.
Around the last week of December, I always like to sit down and formally journal the trajectory of my life and set a vision going forward. It’s a nice self-love practice to keep us on the front line of our lives, staying alert to its themes and rhythms, and honoring not only where we’re going, but where we’ve been.
8. Beautify your home
Create a sacred space in your house, if you don’t have one already. Decorate it with comfy pillows and a table for candles and your journal. Add decorations you find meaningful. The space doesn’t have to take up much room, even a corner of a room will work.
Winter is also a good time to get rid of things you no longer need, clearing space in preparation for new beginnings. You may find your tastes have changed. Honor this by changing your home’s decor in small ways, like buying new pillows in colors you like or switching a picture on the wall.
It’s important that our outer environment reflect our inner one. Making these adjustments honors the changing seasons in your life and helps you step more fully into your current reality.
What is your favorite self-love ritual for winter? Share in the comments below.
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Image by wildbindi via Flickr