Winter is a great time for introspection. We’re forced to be indoors more; cozy blankets are a given; and things outside get pretty quiet with the newly fallen snow. Sounds peaceful, doesn’t it? But it can also be a time for extreme stress, especially around the holidays. If you’re feeling more stressed than cozy this winter, it may be time for some radical self-care.
What does real self-care look like?
In our culture, the term “self-care” has taken on an interesting meaning, especially for women. Self-care has come to look more like routines that beautify and treat the outer shell of a human as opposed to dealing with what thoughts, struggles and emotions are swirling on the inside. Spa days, pedicures, massages, wine nights, etc., are all great fun and certainly can contribute to a sense of self-care, but the problem is they only carry you so far. Once your pedicure or wine-night fun is over, you find you’re still sitting in your hot mess. This cycle can lead to anxiety, depression and even addiction.
It’s a pyramid
Real self-care means facing what’s in your heart and mind, taking a good, hard look at what you’ve signed up for and cleaning house if those things no longer serve you. It relies on a desire to be healthy on every level of your being: physical, mental and emotional.
Think of self-care as being a pyramid. At the foundation is introspection, a quiet time to sit and think about what may be causing you to feel so overwhelmed. If you’re a trauma survivor or find yourself spinning off into anxious rumination when forced to be still, try some mindful movement in the form of yoga, tai chi or dance before coming to a quiet, still position. Journaling is also a great way to keep track of your thoughts.
The next level of the pyramid consists of activities that bring you joy but also allow you to remain centered in yourself and relaxed. These can be creative endeavors like knitting or painting or just listening to your favorite music. Exercise and eating healthy also fall into this section, as both of these can lead to a more relaxed and cared-for state of being.
The next level of the pyramid is activities and fun entertainment you enjoy while with others (or even by yourself). This is where your spa days, wine nights with friends, family vacations or antiquing fit into your recharging plan. Do something that sparks joy and reminds you why you love life. This becomes so important during the winter months when seasonal affective disorder can affect your mental health.
At the very tip-top of the pyramid, after you’ve recharged your batteries, is where you make changes to keep from getting too overwhelmed in the future. Decipher where you need to say a polite “no” instead of a forced “yes.” Which projects or responsibilities can you hand off or ask for help? What things can you let go?
Simple ways to care for self
Focus on gratitude: Positive thinking helps keep your attitude in line. What you think, you are.
Seek out happiness: We’re surrounded with bad news. Look for the good and the hope; it IS out there.
Say no and own it: You can’t do everything. You shouldn’t do everything. It’s healthy to say no.
Drink plenty of water: Dehydration can bring serious physical consequences, plus winter sucks moisture out and leaves chapped lips, dry skin and headaches. Drink up!
Keep to (or improve) sleep schedule: Getting behind on sleep can add to winter blues.
Sit in silence for 5 minutes: We are inundated with noise 24/7 and it can easily overwhelm your senses and thoughts. Take time to just be in peace.
Put down your phone: Our dependency on knowing what’s happening every minute of every day is hugely draining. If you can’t unplug completely, at least take a break. Notice the beauty around you. Be fully present.
Self-care literally means caring for yourself. By making sure that you’re respecting and tending to all the different aspects of your being, you can feel truly recharged and ready to live your best life. Live in Hancock County? Find even more ways to care for yourself right here.