I always love this time of year. I have a childlike fascination with the frozen crystals that adorn the ground once the frost sets in. With the winter season, the town twinkles with fairy lights, there is a bite in the air that charges my senses faster than caffeine, and the frozen fun can start with my favorite winter sports. The cold can keep you indoors, but I grew up with four seasons in my year. I don’t dread winter’s arrival, and the romantic in me would be amiss without a white Christmas.
It can no doubt feel oppressive as the sunlight hours shrink to a smaller and smaller window of time. The natural world instinctively slows down with the change in temperature. Trees retreat into themselves and many animals hibernate. Humans do not need to go full throttle through the holidays to find themselves back at work at the turn of the New Year having hardly enjoyed their time off in the hustle and bustle.
Winter can be a great opportunity to reflect inward. I challenge you to take a step back during the holiday season and enjoy some well-deserved self-care.
I have embraced the natural still to help me grow to know myself better and achieve greater mental clarity in the year to come. Much of the last few months have been a self-exploration in minimalism primarily centered around the physical clutter in my space. Yet, I acknowledge that clutter takes many forms in our experience of reality, some physical, some emotional, and some digital. December is my time to turn inward and reflect on what had worked best in the previous year while at the same time developing my goals for the year to come. Below are my top five habits for winter reflections to help you in your journey in intentional living.
Keep it Simple Silly
You do not need to set up a home spa to take some time for yourself. I can have the most rewarding and relaxing afternoon with my favorite tea and a good book to keep me company. If you have the time and your ideal personal pamper routine includes some candles and a luxuriously scented bubble bath then go for it! Although, do not feel compelled to set up all the accoutrements to have some time to yourself. Keep it simple and easy to find your relaxation escape.
This could include taking yourself on a walking tour of your neighborhood Christmas light competition, snuggling up on the couch with your partner, trying a new festive themed dessert, meditating for five minutes, moving your body, or finally opening that book that has been on your reading list for months. Check out my bookshelf for the stories that I am loving this month and tips on how you can read more books this year.
Step Back from the Electronics
Social media can be a very positive platform to connect with relatives separated by distance or friends who have fallen out of touch in time. Unfortunately, for the most part, it is not being used in its highest and best use but rather as a tool for comparison and extreme consumerism.
If you ever want to feel more gratitude and appreciate your own life… and save some money, step back from social medial for a day or a week to halt the indecent barrage of influencers trying to sell you the latest trend or extravagant lifestyle. Instead, focus on what brings you happiness in our own life rather than enviously scrolling through the cultivated image others choose to share with the world. A great way to develop a gratitude mindset is to pick up a gratitude journal with helpful prompts to reflect on all that you have to be thankful for.
One of my favorite reflective pastimes is journaling. Usually, I tend to free write about the events that are unfolding in my day to day life. But this can also be a wonderful tool brainstorm ideas for the future, bring attention to things that have worked out well in the past, and to store novel ideas as they come to you throughout the day. I have a soft spot for physical journals and maybe it is the romantic in me that takes great pleasure in moving the pen across beautiful stationery.
Rediscover your Strengths
When the cold and dark begin to impose on our life it can be easy to let sadness creep into our days as well. Seasonal depression is rather common where the change of season steals away sunshine, vitamin D and the ability to enjoy an afternoon walk. To keep with the spirit of positivity and personal development I am using the time of quiet reflection to grow more intimate with my strengths and understand how I may employ them to feel more productive in life and work.
A fantastic tool for this exercise is the Strengths Finder 2.0 assessment and book. This phycological assessment helps to pinpoint your strengths and gives action items for projects that are best suited to your personality.
Embrace the boredom
It can be tempting to flit from one activity to another especially when it is a term of endearment to be “busy”. But when “busy” is a cover for “stressed” I doubt whether or not I should aspire to have an overbooked calendar and a never-ending to-do list. Instead of filling the empty space I am aspiring to have some actual free time on my holiday.