The last time I wrote about self-care was back in January. Then I was writing about a time of year when everything is supposed to feel positive, but often we’re feeling a little jaded, and are being a little unkind to ourselves regarding our progress with forming new habits and getting back into the swing of things after the holidays.
Now I am writing from a perspective of having come almost full-circle. We are heading back into the holiday season, the year has run (most of) its course, and we are nearing the completion of the circle. The warmth of summer and the abundance of fall are behind us, and we are staring winter in the face. There are two different sets of needs I want to address here: psychological and physical.
This time of year can be challenging physically. It’s cold, it’s dark; even just our usual short journeys to and from work, school and home can feel exhausting. Take care of your body by making sure you have the right equipment to protect it from the winter. Choose warm fabrics; natural materials, things with texture, lots of layers: these will help keep you feeling warm and protected. Make sure your footwear is sturdy and you have proper waterproofs. Use rich hand and foot creams, with nourishing natural ingredients like cocoa butter, to protect your skin from the sudden changes in temperature. Feed your body with herbal teas (I especially recommend those flavoured with aromatic spices such as cardamom, cinnamon and clove), and sweet winter vegetables like squashes and roots.
Psychological self-care is just as important, although it can be harder to justify setting aside time for. Make it a priority to get outside if the sun is shining, even if it’s cold, even if you’re supposed to be doing something else. Sunlight does us so much good! Spend time with friends and loved ones, even if it’s for a virtual coffee over the phone; make a point of setting aside time to connect with people who remind you of good times and of what makes you special and unique. Remember that in amongst all the crazy spending that goes on at this time of year, it really is better to receive a visit, a letter, an offer of babysitting - you don’t need to be worrying about how to afford the holidays, but instead thinking about how you can be at peace with yourself, how you can look after yourself and how you can help those around you.
Two particular ideas resonate strongly for me at this time of year. Firstly, gratitude is a wonderful practice that can really help calm your mind and reassure you that you are loved and supported. And secondly, remember to treat your body and soul as if they were two small pets that you need to care for. Every day, take time to think of each of them separately and consider their needs - are you meeting them? This is the crux of self-care, and it is so important. So often we treat ourselves badly, talking down to ourselves or neglecting our basic needs. You wouldn’t do that to an animal in your care; ensure that you are not doing it to yourself.
You deserve the best care; make sure you give it to yourself.