As the year goes through its seasons, our bodies develop different self-care needs. For many people, winter is the most physically challenging time of year - the cold weather aggravates inflammation and joint stiffness or pain, cold air might bring back your lungs' memory of bronchitis you had years ago, short dark days can worsen depression and deplete energy levels... There are very real reasons that many mammals hibernate in winter. We don't need to spend all winter asleep, but we do need to conserve energy and take care of ourselves.
Because winter can be so tough, winter self-care can seem daunting. Here are a few easy things you can do to help keep yourself more comfortable until spring comes and wakes us up again.
Rest. Maybe it sounds obvious, but with winters crowded with holidays, shopping, and giant family gatherings and parties, we forget about it all too often. If your body is telling you it needs more down-time, sleep, and food, listen to it. It might be telling you that if you're getting sick a lot or always feel tired. It's not laziness - it's self-care.
Gentle movement. If the cold weather is making your body and joints feel stiff and sore, don't push yourself immediately into your day. Give your body a few extra minutes to warm up in the morning or before you start exercising. Stretches are great, but maybe your body needs a little joint lubrication? Try some gentle, slow, small circles where you're stiff - every part of your body that can move in a circle (head, ankles, shoulders, wrists, hips, rib cage, and more) will benefit from gently moving that way. Don't worry if they're crackly square-ish circles, but stay away from circles that hurt.
Wake up your circulation. When your body is cold, most of your blood leaves your skin and goes to your core to keep your essential organs warm. Here's an easy trick for bringing more blood to the surface and to your limbs - using soft open palms, quickly tap all over your body. Tap your feet, lower legs, thighs, hips, back, stomach, chest, shoulders, arms... anything you can easily reach. This practice is also useful for increasing your energy, for proprioception (the ability to feel yourself in space), and for numb skin.
Got a more specific question about winter self-care that didn't get answered here? Got a favorite tip to share? Comment below or contact me!