The winter months can be tough, physically and mentally. The lack of sunshine can leave us feeling depleted. The cold, harsh weather can cause our bodies to tense and the dark days can lead to seasonal affective disorder (SAD).
This is exactly why we must look after ourselves even more during the winter months and prioritise our wellbeing as much as we possibly can.
Life is busy and whether you’re a mother or entrepreneur, prioritising your wellbeing can be a challenge in itself. This is why I’ve decided to share a few practical tips that are not only great to practice during the winter months but that are also perfect for those who live busy, unpredictable lives.
1. Connect with nature.
Taking a 5-10 minute walk outside in the fresh air is one of the simplest ways you can bring your body back to a place of balance.
Whether you’re feeling overwhelmed, stressed or tired, grab your coat and head outside. Make sure to leave your phone at home, giving yourself the opportunity to be completely present.
Allow your senses to run wild. Take deep, slow breaths as you imbibe your surroundings.
If you live near woodlands then why not try Forest Bathing? This is a Japanese practice, known in Japan as Shinrin Yoku, which describes the simple act of being calm and quiet amongst the trees. Forest bathing has been proven to reduce stress hormone production, improve feelings of happiness and free up creativity, as well as lower heart rate and blood pressure, boost the immune system and accelerate recovery from illness.
If that’s not a good enough reason to connect with nature, I don’t know what is!
Picture by Mefus Photography.
As a Yoga teacher, I’m a huge advocate for its healing benefits. A simple 10 minute practice can completely change the trajectory of your day.
I run an online membership for busy women called ‘saib’ which stands for ‘pause’ in Welsh.
The first thing I ask my members to do is create a sacred space within their homes, that can be used as a dedicated space to practice Yoga. I’ll always encourage my members to treat themselves to an Aery candle, which they light before their practice. This always helps to create a calmer and more serene environment.
Carving out 10 minutes per morning to stretch and breath can do so much for your wellbeing! It sets a positive tone for the day ahead and it also helps you to let go and release any stress or strain your body may be holding on to from the day before.
If you’re struggling for time, try and get up 15 minutes earlier, and since you’ve already created your space, you’re already ready to go.
Picture by Kristina Banholzer
We breathe everyday, all day, however focusing on the breath is a completely different practice.
My favourite breath sequence to practice is Savitri Pranayama which involves slow, rhythmic and deep breathing.
The rhythm I teach the most, which helps to reduce stress, shifting the body from the fight or flight mode into the rest and digest mode, is 6 X 3 6 X 3.
You can practice this anywhere, anytime. In bed first thing in the morning, during your commute, at your desk in work, or in the evening just before bed.
Breathe in through the nose for a count of 6, hold the breath for 3 seconds, breath out through the nose for a count of 6 and hold the breath at the bottom for a further 3 seconds. Practice this sequence around 6-9 times to get the full benefit from the practice.
4. Reduce your exposure to blue light.
The amount of time that we all spend on our phones and laptops can be extremely damaging to our circadian rhythm.
There have been many studies out there that explore how the blue light that emanates from our screens suppresses melatonin, a natural hormone the body produces that helps us to sleep.
Sleep is essential for our wellbeing; it is as important to our bodies as eating, drinking and breathing, and is vital for maintaining good mental and physical health.
Reducing your exposure to blue light, especially in the evening, will not only improve your sleep quality but also boost your wellbeing.
Here are a few things you can do to reduce your exposure to blue light;
- Use dim red lights for night lights. Red light is less likely to shift circadian rhythm and suppress melatonin.
- Avoid looking at bright screens beginning two to three hours before bed.
- If you work a night shift or use a lot of electronic devices at night, consider wearing blue-blocking glasses or installing an app that filters the blue/green wavelength at night.
- Expose yourself to lots of bright light during the day, which will boost your ability to sleep at night, as well as your mood and alertness during daylight.
5. Practice Gratitude.
This is one of my favourite wellbeing hacks as it instantly boosts your mood and allows you to really put things into perspective. It also only takes 1-3 minutes and can be practiced anytime, anywhere.
Every morning, write 5 things you’re grateful for. I normally make this the first thing I do when I wake up. I keep a journal and a pen next to my bed to encourage and remind myself to do so. If you’re really stuck for time you could always write your gratitude list in your diary or on your phone.
Committing to one of these practices each day will really help to ensure a happy, healthy body and mind. Looking after yourself doesn’t need to be complicated or time consuming.
If you’re looking for further support to create and commit to self-care practices, you can find more information on the Saib membership by heading to our website www.saib.yoga.
Wishing you all a happy and healthy 2022,