Self-Care in Winter Throughout the Festive Season

Self Care in Winter

We all need more internal self care in Winter. For many people this is a strange time of year. The days are shorter, and the weather is generally wetter and colder. It can feel more difficult to get up in the mornings. We tend to spend more time indoors away from the elements and the natural light. All of this to a greater or lesser degree has an impact on our mood, and for those who suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder this impact feels severe.

One of the ways of looking to counteract this is through our Christmas festivities. This is meant to be a time of celebration, in whatever way suites our beliefs and way of life. However, for many this is a time of year that only goes to exacerbate some of the difficulties they experience in the Winter. Often, they overindulge themselves with food and alcohol, and spending on extravagant presents. They also may spend more time around family members, with whom they have more strained relationships and find themselves resorting to old and familiar patterns of interacting. Alternatively, for some the conflict between how the media present the festive season and their reality of their Christmas can leave them feeling lonely and depressed. All in all, this can lead to a January hangover, that is not just physical but financial and psychological as well!!

In an ideal world, we would take time to think carefully about our Christmas and plan how we will do it in a way that cares about us, managing our indulgences and who we spend time with. However, the reality is that often we don’t do this, we minimise or ignore the potential negative impact of Christmas, and sometimes feel that we do not have a choice about who we spend time with. After all we are supposed to all be merry and jolly at Christmas and get along!       

So, as we move into the new year, what is it that we can do to look after ourselves better. Most of know what is good for us and what is not. Good things include: attending to our nutrition, getting some physical exercise, getting out in the natural light, spending time with people we want to spend time with, meditating, doing things that we find fun in a healthy way, being with loved ones. However, in the post-Christmas hangover perhaps what is most important is to hold a compassionate stance towards ourselves.

Rather than beating ourselves up for putting on those extra pounds, getting into an argument with the mother in law for the 3rd year running, not having friends and family with whom to spend Christmas, we could forgive ourselves and think about how we move forward from here. Beating ourselves up will not make any difference and will just make us feel worse.

Ah, I hear you say, if I give myself a hard time it helps motivate me to achieve my new years resolution. Is this really true? Most New Years resolutions fail within a matter of days or weeks. I would suggest a punitive approach to ourselves is part of the problem. If one side of us forces ourselves to do something, at some point the other side of us will sabotage it. Taking a compassionate standpoint, recognising that we did whatever we did for some good reason – even if the consequences weren’t great, and then thinking about how we might do things more wisely in the future is more likely to reap results that are sustainable going forward into 2020.  

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