Art by: Sandra Dieckmann
Today I want to share with you some critical ways you can support your body, mind and spirit as we enter mid-winter in the Northern Hemisphere.
For those of you in the Southern Hemisphere most of these tips are actually great for you to follow to some degree as well.
Both mid-summer & mid-winter is an important time to slow down and reflect for the coming season. In the peak of summer the energy can be so ‘high’ that you can end up run down from lack of rest if you forget to take this essential down-time.
Okay so straight to the point, here we go lovelies.
Here are my top six tips to ease through the winter feeling deeply nourished & ready for the soon-to-come upward rising energy of spring:
1. REST: The first one is to REST MORE. In mid-winter it is ideal to be sleeping 10 hours per night from 9pm -7am. Of course we may not always be able to accomplish this (usually sleeping isn’t categorized as an accomplishment, but I really think that in our fast-paced society, if you’re sleeping enough you’re kind of going against-the-grain so you should celebrate the wherewithal that takes!) Even if our lives ask too much of us to sleep 10 hours/night, we can at least set the intention and try to allow ourselves the space to nap more if we aren’t getting our 10 hours at night. A 30 minute nap just after sunset can leave you feeling more rejuvenated through dinner and might open up a bit of creative time and energy for you in the evening.
2. DREAMING: To go with sleep, winter is also an excellent time to focus on DREAMING more deeply and to ask for guidance and messages from our dreams. Another powerful way to feed our dreams is to pay attention to them. Start a Dream Journal and keep it beside your bed and spend 5-10 minutes writing down any dreams first thing when you wake up. And you don’t HAVE to remember your dreams in order to start feeding your them….if you don’t remember the actual dreams you can write down any emotions, body sensations or thoughts you wake up with. This lets your subconscious know that you are interested. Toko-pa, author of Belonging and teacher of Dreamwalking, says we must ‘court’ our dreams so they come towards us. I’d also suggest writing down any dream memories/emotions/sensations or thoughts if you wake up in the middle of the night.
Our bodies naturally make more melatonin in the winter with the longer nights, and melatonin is known to not only make us feel sleepy but also to enhance our dreams. In the Chinese Medicine perspective winter is governed by the element of WATER (which also relates to the realm of emotions and the adrenal/kidney of course) so dreams can be especially powerful at this time.
Feed your dreams in winter and you may notice them blooming and bearing fruit throughout the coming year.
3. DETOX THROUGH DEEP NOURISHMENT ~ and more REST:
When animals are hibernating the dorsal vagus nerve has very high tone, which helps them burn less calories and deeply restore the vitality of every cell of their bodies. The dorsal vagus nerve in humans also has slightly more tone in the winter. So this means not only do we dream more deeply, but our bodies can go into a deeper state of rest than usual and are therefore able to cleanse, detox & renew on a very deep level – body, mind and soul, with a focus especially on the nervous system and adrenals healing and repairing.
This is different than the kind of detox we do in the springtime through fasting and cleansing foods ~ winter detox is all about DEEP NOURISHMENT.
When we are in a deep state of rest our body naturally lets go of toxins – and we NEED to be in a state of deep rest in order for our body to cleanse properly, which is part of the reason why many people who live in a state of chronic stress end up with diseases from toxic overload like cancer, chronic fatigue etc.
The kind of cleansing that happens naturally during winter rest is best supported NOT by things like fasting but by DEEP NOURISHMENT ~ loading our body with nutrient dense foods which then naturally push out toxins. Healthy fats are especially important in the winter.
Looking at what is available that is grown and stored locally in winter can help guide us as to what is appropriate to nourish our bodies with during this season. You may find your body more drawn to nourishing soups, kitchari, (grass-fed) animal fats, fish and liver in the winter as well as root veggies and things like cabbage especially fermented saurkraute which is full of happy probiotics, but be sure to follow your own body wisdom to determine exactly which foods suit you best at any given time!
4. MOVEMENT: We also want to be sure to balance deep rest with light exercise as there is a danger of our energy getting to sluggish/stagnant. A brisk 20 minute walk outside first thing in the morning will do wonders to balance hormones. Natural daylight plus brisk movement first thing in the morning stimulates your pituitary gland and let’s your whole endocrine system know that it’s time to wake up and starts you on the right foot for your day.
5. CONNECT: In many traditional cultures, deep winter was not only a time to rest and reflect but also a time to be together and share music, storytelling and to reflect on the past year together to determine both collective and personal intentions for the coming year. In modern culture many people still gather with family and friends but we may have lost the old cultural ways of being with each other not only in celebration but also to support each other with reflection and setting intentions for the coming year. How can you bring more intention into your social time this winter? Perhaps hosting a potluck or even going for a walk with one close friend where you support each other to reflect and set intentions could be powerful.
6. REFLECT: Personally I find it totally critical to just be in my own energy for part of each day so that I can let my mind unwind and get quiet. This might be just sitting for a few minutes first thing in the morning and before bed, or it might be going for a short walk.
I love getting outside – especially in the snow – and seeing what animal tracks are in my yard and throughout the neighbourhood and listening to the birds.
Even if it is only 10 minutes in the morning or evening please be sure to take some time just for yourself over the rest of holiday season and with the return of the light, and allow yourself to get quiet and NOTICE what is happening within you. What do you need? Give yourself some space to reflect on the moment, and also to reflect on the past year. This is a powerful time to go inward and really look at what is working and what is not working in our lives and start to set intentions for the coming year.
When we don’t give ourselves the space to reflect, set intention and plan ahead it can be easy to get stuck in stress and overwhelm, (which benefits no one), so give yourself the gift of just a few minutes each day to reflect upon what you have to be grateful for and also what needs to change or shift in some way.
I’d love to hear from you so please comment below and tell me 3 things you are grateful for and 1 thing you want to change this coming year.
In love & light,
Josea Tamira Crossley