My husband, Matt, and I have been getting our home ready for winter. We raked and mowed the lawn (well, he did) burlap wrapped some young shrubs, pulled out the last of the garden, drained the outdoor water hoses (also him) and put the tarp over the camper. The gazebo furniture is still holding on, not quite ready to let go of its summer place of
honor and be relegated to the shed (new cushion covers arrived late in the season, so it's still showing off).
In addition to getting the home front ready, I'm also planning for my winter health. As someone who manages Seasonal Affective Disorder, it's always important for me to have a 'habit plan' as the days get shorter and the temperatures start indicating what's ahead. I ward off the winter blahs by starting now, before they arrive. This year, with covid restrictions and uncertainty about many things in life, it feels even important to commit to my wellness. There's lots of good blogs on how to navigate liminal space , but today (to quote the fun meme I saw on social media about managing all this uncertainty), I'm choosing, to 'control the shit' out of something I can instead. I say that half joking, knowing it's my tendency to want to control in uncertain times. But for me this year, having a plan and then going with the flow feels like the right approach.
What am I doing? Here is my personal game plan for Winter 2020;
1. Movement & fresh air to revive.
In addition to leading mindful movement classes, I love time in nature, so I'll continue with my walk/jogs in my neighborhood or nearby wooded trails with a few more layers. I'll trade that in for snow shoes and cross country skis when that beautiful, fluffy white stuff arrives. I've also scheduled in a weekly indoor fitness class to keep me on track and the dopamine flowing. I'm trusting my somatic movement practice will keep me tuned into my nervous system needs from day to day and keep me feeling supple and resilient. How will you regularly revive?
2. Nutrition to nourish my cells.
Food is medicine. I'm no nutritionist, but I've collected a lot of tips and things that work for me over the decades. In addition to eating (in general) a whole foods diet (to me meaning, cooking at home without a lot of packages and preservatives), I supplement with Vit D, Juice Plus fruit and veggie tabs and omega 3s. I take some herbs based on what's going on in my body and inexpensive mineral salts. I've traded in my summer beer for tea: St. John's wort (for mild depression), ginger-tumeric (anti-inflammatory, anti-viral), among other good brews that I get from Winnipeg's own Hollow Reed Holistic. Of course, you need to consult your own health practitioner for advice about your unique needs. What is one thing you do to feed your body well?
3. Clear out.
In addition to clearing out the garage and the shoe shelf, I'm planning a short fall cleanse. I haven't done one in a few years so feeling some resistance...wish me luck (and someone follow up with me to see if I actually follow through). Read this great article from Banyan Botanicals on How our Mood, Digestion, and Immune Strength are Connected . (I used to offer intro courses in Ayurveda years ago and I know this is a great website with tons of free resources if you want to self-learn). How are you clearing space in your life?
4. Lights on to stay bright.
Writing this reminds me it's time to pull out my 'Daylight' out of the storage closet. It's a lightbox that supplements our decreasing sunlight. It usually sits on my dining room table from Nov- February and tend to use it 15 min, 3-4x/week. Winnipeg folks can find more info and a variety of models at Diamond Athletics. What helps you stay bright?
5. I've booked some wellness appointments.
For me, a little acupuncture goes a looong way. I usually schedule it monthly during the deep winter months to help with symptoms of S.A.D. Last year, I managed pretty well with just a few sessions, so we'll see how it goes (I sense my somatic movement practice is healing my nervous system). I see my chiropractor monthly for a tune up and have scheduled a couple few massages. No funds or coverage for these things? Check out community-based models and schools to access great services on a budget. Is there a wellness practitioner that you are booking in with?
6. Connection with others.
We need connection (preferably face to face) with others to regulate our nervous systems and I've intuitively built it into my work. Leading small group classes, seeing private clients and leading courses on-line allows me regular daily, authentic connection with great people. Getting together with others is tricky this year, but nothing beats the winter blahs like a good laugh with a friend. Those nature adventures and times with 'bubble' friends (pun intended) really serve my mental health. I also value the monthly on-line zoom circles I co-created years ago and the relationships I continue to create within them. Knowing how important it is for mental wellness, who will you continue to connect with?
7. Practicing self-compassion on the 'off ' days.
Learning to befriend myself on the toughest days is the type of progress that I'm both proud of and grateful for. This has been an on-going journey over the last decade for me (and this needs its own blog post to do it justice). In short, I'm lucky that I've stumbled towards great teachers, picked up the right book, had the authentic conversations, and the luxury of support in many forms to expand my capacity for self-compassion and self-regulation. How are you practicing kindness towards yourself?
So that's my plan folks. It feels like a manifesto to write it all down and share it. Hopefully it sparks your own creativity for your Winter 2020 wellness plan. I'd love to hear about yours in the comment below. Let's share our ideas and cheer each other on. This year, more than ever.
Now, I'm going to go sit in that gazebo one more time and enjoy those cushions...before the white stuff gets here.
Joy is a somatic movement therapist, yoga teacher, Numa Breathwork facilitator and circle host in Winnipeg, Manitoba (Central Canada, where it gets darn cold). She leads groups and private clients to their own authentic wellness all year long.