“Wintering” is a term coined from Katherine May’s beautiful book, ‘Wintering: The Power of Rest & Retreat in Difficult Times’. Katherine’s poignant meditation refers to how life ebbs and flows like the seasons, and her own journey through a year-long winter after a sudden illness in her family. Winter, in her definition, refers to the “...times when we must rest and retreat to care for and repair ourselves.”
Winter, in its seasonal sense, can be a dark period too. We wanted to explore ideas on how it might be possible to reframe our feelings about the cold and dark that might allow us space to see this period, not as a time to endure, but as a period of profound nourishment for the mind, body, and soul. As we delved into the heart of this transformative idea, we unravelled the idea of "wintering well" – a holistic approach that transcends mere survival, inviting us to thrive during the colder months.
“Plants and animals don’t fight the winter; they don’t pretend it’s not happening and attempt to carry on living the same lives that they lived in the summer. They prepare. They adapt. They perform extraordinary acts of metamorphosis to get them through. Winter is a time of withdrawing from the world, maximising scant resources, carrying out acts of brutal efficiency and vanishing from sight; but that’s where the transformation occurs.” - Katherine May, Wintering: The Power of Rest & Retreat in Difficult Times
Reframing Winter: Beyond Endurance
Winter is often viewed as a season to endure, marked by chilly temperatures and longer nights. However, perhaps like nature, we can be inspired to shift this perspective and see winter as a time of retreat, reflection, and renewal. By reframing how we approach the colder months, we could unlock a wealth of benefits that extend far beyond merely waiting it out.
Hibernation: The Art of Sleeping Well
Central to the concept of wintering well is the idea of hibernation, not just in the animal kingdom but within ourselves. Quality sleep is crucial for overall health, and during winter, our bodies naturally yearn for a bit more rest. Ensure your bedroom is a sanctuary for good sleep, embracing dark, comfort and warmth, whilst allowing cooler air to flow at night. Develop bedtime rituals that signal to your body that it's time to wind down at least 40 minutes before hitting the sack, creating an atmosphere conducive to a restful night (try our sleep-inducing Skin Boost Infusion before bed-link). Consider a daylight alarm that gently wakes you to help align your circadian rhythm.
Eating Well: Satisfying, Wholesome, Warming Foods
Wintering well involves nurturing your body from the inside, and what better way than through wholesome, satisfying, and warming foods? Embrace the season's bounty with nourishing soups, hearty stews, and nutrient-rich meals. Incorporate seasonal vegetables, fruits, and spices that not only delight your taste buds but also provide essential nutrients to support your skin and overall well-being (try our immune boosting Fire Cider too).
Movement and Getting Outdoors: Exercise and Fresh Air
Contrary to the temptation to hibernate indoors, wintering well encourages movement and getting outdoors if you can. Engaging in whatever regular exercise suits your body can boost your mood and energy levels, and you can practise embracing the invigorating benefits of cold air on your skin! Whether it's a brisk walk, a winter jog, a cold water swim or a snow-covered hike, withdrawing from the stresses and pressures of everyday life and instead connecting with nature can have a remarkably reinvigorating effect on your body and mind.
Daylight: A Natural Elixir
Maximise your exposure to natural daylight during winter. Sunlight is a crucial source of vitamin D, essential for skin health and overall wellbeing. Take short breaks outdoors - even on cloudy days - to soak in the natural light, or set yourself up by a window. This simple practice can help contribute to maintaining healthy skin and uplifting your mood. Investing in good quality supplements can help boost your vitamin D intake during the darker months, or you could consider light therapy.
Mental and Physical Health: Holistic Wellbeing
Wintering well encompasses caring for both your mental and physical health. Prioritise activities that bring you joy and relaxation. Engage in mindfulness practices, whether it's taking a sauna, meditation, yoga, or simply taking moments for self-reflection. The interconnection between mental and physical health is profound, and winter provides an opportune time to strengthen both aspects of your wellbeing.
Building Positive Emotions: Self-Care Rituals
The practice of building positive emotions can be a great investment in your emotional resilience, however hard it can feel when you’re deep in the winter darkness. Try consciously performing acts of kindness for yourself, indulging in self-care rituals, and surrounding yourself with positivity. While it can feel like you’re faking it til you make it, the evidence suggests that these small deliberate gestures have a cumulative effect on your overall happiness, creating a confidence that stems from within.
Flow: Engaging in Indoor Hobbies
Find your state of flow by immersing yourself in indoor hobbies or activities. Whether it's reading, painting, crafting, or learning a new skill, losing yourself in an engaging pursuit fosters a sense of accomplishment and fulfilment. This state of flow not only nurtures your mental health but also can also contribute to your skin’s health and resilience by lowering cortisol levels.
Winter Skincare: Protecting Your Skin
As the winter chill sets in, it's essential to adapt your skincare routine to the season. Harsh winds and low humidity can strip your skin of moisture, leading to dryness and irritation. Consider switching to richer, more hydrating moisturisers or balms to provide a protective barrier against the elements. But even in the depths of winter, don't forget the sunscreen! UV rays are still present, and (if you’re in the right area) snow can reflect UV light, increasing your skin’s risk of damage.
Incorporate gentle exfoliation into your routine to slough off dead skin cells and promote cell turnover. This helps your skin absorb moisturisers more effectively. Consider using oils and serums to give your skin an extra nourishing moisture boost.
Stay hydrated from the inside out by drinking plenty of water. The cold weather can be dehydrating, and maintaining good hydration levels helps support healthy skin. Consider adding omega-3 fatty acids to your diet, found in fish, flaxseeds, and walnuts, to help combat dryness.
As we embrace the concept of wintering well for the coming months, join us on a journey as we redefine our perception of winter, delve deeper into the benefits of hibernation, nourishing foods, movement, daylight, and mindfulness, and the profound impact these elements can have on your skin and overall well-being.
A roadmap, if you will, to a season of thriving, where your skin, mind, and body receive the nourishment they need. Let this winter be not just endured, but cherished as a time of profound self-care and growth.
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