We have lost so much of the art of wintering.
There can be so much wisdom that lives with the seasons. Winter can be used as a time for deep relaxation, sacred rest, and inner time that allows us to be renewed and ready for a new cycle when spring comes.
As an Australian, wintering is not an art that I grew up with, but something that I slowly remembered and learned through living in London, attuning to my ancestors, meditating and other spiritual practices.
I remember returning to London in winter 2019/20 and asking myself in spring: “Wow, I am feeling such a surge of energy now, imagine if I had really saved my energy over the winter and could really take advantage of it instead of feeling burned out ”. Since I felt extremely exhausted in the colder months, I was frustrated with how slow I felt and was unable to keep up with my summer energy levels when it came to work and motivation.
It was then that I realized that a large part of my aversion to winter was the dissonance I felt when I tried to lead a “summer” life during the winter season that was designed for deep calm and insight.
This insight is nothing new – it is an ancient wisdom, a very logical one, but somehow so lost in our modern society in a constant "go, go, go and more, more" mode.
Last winter I decided to change my approach. I decided to learn to face winter instead of hating and resisting it for three months. During the locked winter 20/21, I experimented by working with my energy, using different self-care practices, and taking a different approach and perspective.
I tried different technologies, read about how my ancestors probably got through this season and while it would be a stretch to say that I'm a winter person, I made it out of winter safe and sound.
Tips for dealing with winter and seasonal affective disorder:
- Going for a walk in the morning whether it's sunny or not to get some daylight. Usually a morning person, I do my meditation routine, yoga, followed by work and the beloved afternoon stroll. …. Since the sun sets around 3:30 pm in winter, I've found that I feel a lot better if I change my routine and go for a walk around 8-9 am. So don't be afraid to change your daily routine seasonally if you have the flexibility to do so.
- Wake up to a UV light alarm. Lumi is my favorite. With the soft, circadian rhythm-friendly light, I feel less drowsy and no longer have the experience of waking up in the dark with horror. If you need extra UV light you can buy a desk lamp, but the light alarm and being outdoors are generally enough for me.
- Vitamin D drops – oil-based and 1000 IU – take 5 drops daily.
- Slow it down. What's not necessarily on your to-do list? Winter is there to rest. Before electricity, television, and telephones were invented, people rested more in winter. Resting more now will pay off in spring and summer. Winter is the time to just be, let ideas seep through, and go with the flow instead of working your way to the bone. For me, doing less and being okay with it was a great coping strategy last winter.
- Clearance. Windows closed and stagnant air is a recipe for lethargy. Do a room cleaning regularly and feel the difference. I share more about it HERE.
- Meditation, movement, creation, dance. Going inside is what winter is all about. However, if you feel like you need to move something to give your deepest self some time to express, I have one Wintering playlist with lots of tracks to take you on a journey. I love having this playlist while journaling, stretching and fiddling around the house, sipping cups of tea, and having spontaneous moments of movement and dance when the music changes. There are a few songs to sing along to and songs to be quiet, listen deeply and experience some spoken word and just be here and now.
- Join a wintering group like the one I'm offering this year to explore different aspects of winter nutrition, meditation rituals, and togetherness.
If we change our approach to winter, live more in tune with the natural cycle of the season, and see the gifts of insight and deep calm that it brings, it can completely transform our perspective and experience of the season. Working with this type of winter wisdom and using this time for meditation and other "inner" practices is extremely beneficial.
If we give ourselves permission to rest deeply, rejuvenate, and stop trying to work with "summer" energy, it can make a world of difference. In addition, we of course benefit from feeling this "spring rush" of energy by being in a grounded and rested place to really walk with it.
Being able to connect with others about it is so often very important when we are feeling down. When we have seasonal affective disorder, we can withdraw and feel even more lonely. Talking to others and letting us know how you are feeling, as well as wintering tips, can be very helpful.
For me, community, spiritual connection, diet, winter wisdom, and exercise are keys to making winter so much more enjoyable and reducing the effects of seasonal affective disorder.
If you want to know more about mine Winter together Group, you can do so here, and I wish you a wonderful winter full of calm and insight.
Belinda Matwali is a spiritual mentor and meditation guide. She has over ten years of experience in meditation training and studies and has completed 19 meditation trainings with her Masters in India.
She offers 1-2-1 Spiritual Mentoring through which she encourages and guides people to return to their deepest selves and to learn meditation tools that are individual to them and that they can always return to. Meditation is not one size fits all, so Belinda really listens to adjust to what each person needs.
She has worked with Deliciously Ella, Sweaty Betty, Wanderlust, Beatport, and others. If you are interested in working with Belinda either as spiritual mentoring or through a class or workshop, please arrange a free 15 minute call through her website.