Tools for the Season
This is the time of year to find gratitude, give thanks, find peace on earth. But sometimes finding that peace within is the biggest challenge.
But as the days grow shorter, it can become difficult to stay positive and easier to fall prey to depressive moods or thoughts.
Today, a revelation occurred outside my door:
I look towards the sun lowering to the mountains in the west this afternoon at 3:33 pm.
It’s a 28 degree day in Sheridan, Wyoming and there is still a thick blanket of snow covering the prairie and mountains from a storm earlier this week. There are folds of clouds throughout the sky and pockets of baby blue peeking through providing just a hint of color. Around the sun a prism of light makes a protective ring and the softness becomes mesmerizing when reflected upon the landscape. I instantly feel comforted by the picturesque landscape. I am delighted by the feelings that come next, gratitude, and lots of it!
My first experience is the dreamy soft light hitting me straight in the heart, evoking within the coziness of the season and a deep feeling of gratitude:
Gratitude for the light.
Gratitude for the shorter days.
Gratitude for the seasons.
Gratitude for family.
Gratitude for nature.
Gratitude for friendship.
Gratitude for time.
With gratitude we can replace some of our darker narratives and realize some pretty wonderful things about the darker winter season.
You see, as the days shorten and the night expands, the pace of the season inherently slows – especially in comparison to the busy, beautiful, long summer nights. This creates a sense of space and allows for pauses between breaths. The space creates more time to work on our personal and professional goals. Time is a gift for working on long term projects, inviting in routine, and shifting into new patterns. We can spend more intentional space with loved ones and also learn how to set boundaries. We can change the whole narrative of the season, if we choose.
This doesn’t mean that unwanted thoughts will never creep into your head. But, you can use some skills and tools to help you prepare and rebound from them and connect more deeply to your own inner calm.
- Remain grateful
- Don’t over commit
- Get enough sleep
- Positive self-talk
- Self care
- Breath awareness
1. Remain Grateful
Being grateful helps to shift your focus from the head back to your heart, providing more resilience in your emotions, improving self-esteem, enhancing sleep quality, improving relationships and more.
- Start a gratitude practice
- Write a gratitude journal
- Write thank you cards to friends and loved ones
- Say thank you
2. Don’t Over Commit
- Practice setting boundaries
- Keep a physical calendar and block out time just for YOU!
- Practice saying no to people who drain your energy
3. Get Enough Sleep
- 7-9 hours for the average adult as recommended by the Mayo Clinic and the Sleep Foundation
- Limit use of blue light screens such as phones, tablets and television prior to bed
- Set a bedtime reminder on your phone
- Create a night time ritual
4. Positive Self-talk
- Find a daily statement that works for you and repeat it until you believe it!
- i.e. “I am growing,” “I am grateful for ____,” “I am lovable,” “I am capable.”
- No one else gets to live in your head, so befriend the inner dialogue and make that relationship a priority.
- Find more daily affirmations, here!
- Keep a space to write out your thoughts
- Keep a gratitude journal
- Keep a sketch journal
- Let this be as creative as you want
- Set aside a few minutes in your morning or evening routine to reflect and write down thoughts
6. Self Care
- Create ritual in your morning and evening routines
- i.e. say gratitudes while stirring your tea or coffee, or repeat your daily mantra while brushing your teeth
- Beauty routine
- Bundle up and go for a walk
- Self care means something different to everyone…explore more options, here
- Put on music and dance or sing
- Scream into a pillow if you have something inside that needs to be released
- Color or draw
- Play a musical instrument or do some craft work
7. Breath Awareness
- When things are tough, you always have your breath to center and bring your attention to.
- Follow your breath in and out
- Count the breath. Breathe in for 4 seconds, pause, exhale for 4 seconds, pause. Repeat for four rounds or until you feel yourself settling down. Watch this video for guidance.
For me, self care in the winter looks like a warm cup of herbal tea, cozy socks, a blanket and a book to get lost in or paper to sketch on. I remind myself of the season and the gratitude I feel for the time to read and indulge in things I love. In summer, it looks like adventure into nature, bonfires, music and connections with friends.
There is beauty in the ebb and flow of life and the seasons, if we allow space to feel into it.
Take some of these tools and try them out when you are feeling stuck or unheard. More than anything, I hope you know and can feel that you are not alone.
Be kind and gentle to yourself and others this season.
With much love and gratitude,
Samantha Belisle, RN, BSN