Nature is flaring up in a million colours and whilst we enjoy its brilliance, it’s a good time to set in stone some self care rituals for when the soft autumn shades have fallen into winter. 🍁
“Ultimately, the happiest people understand that there is a natural ebb and flow to emotional states”Timothy Bono, Ph.D., a psychology professor at Washington University in St. Louis.
But for those who embrace in nature and revel in the freedom of the summer sun, we need to start protecting our inner warmth before winter makes it’s way to town.
It’s during this season that our hobbies and routine pleasures might not be available to us as freely as they normally are. Bicycles are packed away, sports practices can be cancelled, people around us can tend to retreat inside and our socialising patterns might start to fade into the darkness.
More and more people are suffering with SAD or Seasonal Affective disorder which can set in over winter.
Symptoms of SAD can include:
- a persistent low mood, a loss of pleasure or interest in normal everyday activities, irritability, feelings of despair, guilt and worthlessness,feeling lethargic (lacking in energy) and sleepy during the day, sleeping for longer than normal and finding it hard to get up in the morning, craving carbs and gaining weight
- More information can be found on this NHS website: SAD
So, in the face of this adversity, we humans need to do exactly what we were designed to do.
We can firestart this adaptation through the practice of rituals. Rituals have been used across cultures for thousands of generations as a way of finding, creating and maintaining inner peace. They are practiced through a series of repeating activities. In today’s age, we need to make these rituals a very personal practice, filled with things we can enjoy, reflect on and be present with.
“If you want a new idea, read an old book”
We don’t need to reinvent the wheel. We only need to look back and learn from the coping mechanisms of our ancestors. Taking a leaf out of the ancient system of rituals, instead of running from the cold, we can try to be fully with it, engaging, embracing, divulging and loving it for everything that it is and can be.
But this pattern takes setting up and preparation.
Studies say it takes around 30 days for our actions to become habits, so there is no better time to start than now. Fill your seasonal self care rituals with the things YOU love. Practice them with diligence, even on the days you don’t feel like it.
Consistency is key.
To get you started with some ideas, here are some of my self care rituals…
(My favourite has to be embracing the darkness with cosy candlelit dinners amongst friends and family. The light kisses the room so beautifully and I’m sure they evoke a natural story-telling gene around the flame too!)
☀️ Morning Rituals
Set the day off right with some morning rituals, they just need to be a few minute activities to get you feeling accomplished and ready to start your day
- Pranayama (breathwork)
- Sipping your tea/coffee in silence
- Technology ban whilst waking
- Visualising your day
- Positive affirmations
- Goal setting
- Reading a motivating book
- Gratitude journal
- Meditating – Here are 8 alternate methods!
🍁 Exercise rituals
Naturally boost your happy hormones with exercise and movement! Especially important when you really don’t feel like it, join a programme or team to keep you motivated with a set schedule each week to turn up.
- Walk to work
- Hot yoga (in winter!)
- Follow a YouTube video exercise
- Join a team
- Try a new sport
- Sign up to group classes
- Join a 4-8-12 week programme to keep accountable and meet people
🍃 Nature Rituals
We need to keep connecting with nature rather than retreating away from it, embrace the season with regular walks where you can admire its beauty, breathe in clean air and even discover somewhere new! You could also get creative and bring some nature indoors
- Forest walks
- River walks
- Visit national parks
- Bring nature inside to display
- Make natural art outside
- Dry leaves/petals/pine cones for autumn baskets
- Visit small countryside villages for a coffee
- Explore new spots of nature in your area
- Visit the seaside (yes, even in the cold!)
- Cold water swimming in natural lakes or cold showers as recommended by Iceman Hof
☕️ Nutritional Rituals
One of the factors which contribute to the cyclical nature of feeling SAD in winter is craving carbohydrates and putting on weight. Keep a weekly schedule with certain ritual dinners to keep you eating those feel good nutrients and avoid binging.
- Hot fluids all through the day
- Ginger lemon honey cubes
- Camomile Teas
- Eating seasonal produce which are armed with nutrients to protect us
- Eating dinner by candlelight to embrace the dark nights
- Make a point of meeting friends to eat together
- Dinner parties (could take it in turns to cook!)
- Ritual Dinners: meatfree mondays, soup suppers, Tasty Tuesdays, fruity fridays
- Check out local food markets to meet your nearest artisans and find some goodies
🗣 Social Rituals
According to research, our social patterns and interactions are the biggest contributor to our wellbeing! We need to make sure we’re keeping our calendar packed with meet ups and conversation full of meaning through the cold months
- Reach out to old friends/family you haven’t spoken to in a while
- Join local social groups or clubs to meet people with similar interests such a sports, crafts, skills, reading and attend the sessions or meet ups
- Write gratitude letters to people you’re thankful for, find them, read them (proven to give a happiness boost for over a month!)
- Telephone Tuesdays: try to avoid texting for a day and pick up the phone to anyone you need to contact
- Follow forums for similar interests or locations such as Facebook groups or blogs to find out local events happenning in the area
- Avoid online shopping and go out to the store to buy what you need, speak with those you come into contact with!
- Have deep conversations rather than surface topics. Here are 50 meaningful questions to get you going
✨ Nighttime Rituals
Settle down for a warm and cosy winters evening with some of these rituals to relax and celebrate the season
- Warming drinks
- Diary writing reflections of your day
- Lighting incense and candles
- Sitting by the fire
- Decorating your indoor space
- Early nights reading
- Mindfulness meditations before sleeping
- Hot baths/showers
- Hot Water bottles
- Listening to your favourite music
- Watching films for a particular theme, director, genre or year (invite friends!)
- Technology ban after a certain time
“This is the purpose of creative ritual – increasing balance in connection with in ourselves, with each other, the world, and with the larger rhythms and energies that bring stability and light to our lives.”Renee Beck and Sydney Metrick, The Art of Ritual
I’d love to know, What could you turn into your seasonal self care ritual? Do you already have some? Have you ever felt SAD over winter? What helps you?