Being an early riser, I can really notice on a daily basis how the dark is taking hold of the light. The first half of the dark months, October through December aren’t so painful for me. In fact I enjoy the break after a busy, high energy harvesting and preserving season. I welcome the feeling of going inward as the dark approaches, gladly surrender to the early nights, and listen to the instinctive call to slow down. My creativity and inner light ignites.
Squirrels get it. You know the pine cones and acorns they collect and consume all winter? The seeds inside are full of oils that slow the metabolism down and prepare them for the long night.
When January and the second half of the dark season rolls around, I’m humming a different tune. WHERE IS THE SWEET, NOURISHING, LIFE GIVING SUN?! A few years ago I had a really hard winter. It was challenging getting out of the house with 2 young kids and it turned out to be one of the coldest winters the prairies had ever seen. Live and learn! Now I am being pro-active in my winter care – both mentally and physically. Here are some of the things I’ll be doing to thrive in the darker season. Join me!
Reclaim your mornings
With limited light this time of year, you need to make the most of it. Morning are a great time to step into your day and welcome the rising sun. Stay off your smart phone and reconnect with yourself. You can do a simple yoga routine, dry brush, say some affirmations, or anything that resonates with you. One of the things I never skip is starting the day by drinking a warm lemon/cayenne tea elixir. Easy, and it kick starts your liver and digestion.
Eat seasonal food, mindfully, and slowly
Part of staying healthy is staying in tune with the cycles of nature. The dark cold months are not the time to be eating cold dairy and tropical fruits. It’s a time to eat local, simple, slow, warming food. Get out the slow cooker and make big batches so you don’t have to spend energy cooking all the time. Beans and rice cooked in broth is a favourite of mine. Add some bright fermented carrots, cabbage and some fresh greens to make your plate cheery. Chew slow. Be thankful.
Move your body and get grounded
Yoga, hooping, walking, dancing, boxing, whatever you want. Just get the endorphins going and raise your body temperature. Moving more was a game changer for me. I often felt “too in my head” and exercise brought me back to my body. Here in these northern parts we tend not to sweat as much because its so damn cold. Getting the energy and flow moving and commiting to keep it going through the colder months is key for me.
You don’t need 20 of them. Hell, you don’t even need 5 of them. A few solid friends to check in with, go out for a dinner with, to laugh with, is serious medicine. It’s great to have alone time, but there is never any shortage of that during the winter. I team up with a few of my dearest to make sure we are connecting, getting out, and seeing each other frequently through the winter.
Herbs are a great way to connect with nature during the winter. They work much better when used on a regular basis as opposed to dipping into them erratically. Just like girlfriends, you don’t need to 20 of them. Take one or two that resonate with you and what you personally need support with. This year I’m working with St. John’s Wort as I’m prone to the blues in the deep winter, so any help keeping the sunshine in my heart is welcomed. Elixirs are a great way to get herbs into your body. I don’t drink smoothies in the winter so warm, nourishing herbal teas and blends are the way to go. I make a chaga/reishi tea and mix with some ghee, raw honey, cacao, and chlorella. Explore the spice world and make your own immune boosting chai tea, or a liquorice spice concoction to aid the adrenals.
Start a project
A winter project is just what the wise woman ordered. It keeps you focused on something, lets you be creative, and keeps the energy of your mind flowing. There is nothing worse than been trapped in your home and your head!! Last year I bought an old kitchen hutch and spent much of the winter fixing and painting it. It’s so satisfying to finish something and a great way to push through cabin fever.
Don’t hide from outside
There is something about exploring the winter, and not letting it stop you that opens the door for adventure. The world is so much quieter and still in the winter than the busy, hustle and bustle of summer. Get yourself bundled up and go for a walk, it’s really that simple. 15 minutes a day is enough. It will do wonders for your head and your heart. The crunching sound of my boots in the snow becomes a rhythm to walk to.
Take good care and be gentle with yourself
Cut the lights at 10pm. Listen to your body and what it is trying to tell you. For me, much of my inner work is done in the winter. The darkness makes it easier to look inside, but occasionally it can be an endless rabbit hole. Sometimes less is more and it’s ok to lighten your load, after all, this is the season for quality, not quantity. Taking the time to slow down was natures intention, so dive deep and embrace the dark. Peace!