Since moving to the UK from the tropics many years ago, the new year can feel a bit out of synch for me. I feel the buzz and excitement of a fresh start and time to renew my intentions for what I want for myself, and a part of me wants to ‘go, go, go’ and hit the ground running. But coupled with that, it is still the dead of winter in the northern hemisphere, and every year I find myself naturally wanting to hibernate, take it easy and rest more, until the spring comes and I know I’ll have more energy as the days get longer and warmer.

Even though the rest of the world seems to be going full speed ahead, particularly in the wellness world with full on diet plans and exercise regimes, I still think it feels right to go inwards and spend more time doing nourishing things which warm me up – like drinking lots of cups of tea, making warming curries and soups, eating seasonal, roasted root vegetables; taking naps when I can and doing gentle exercises like yin or restorative yoga and walking. I also love to spend time reviewing the year gone, what I want to continue, what I want to let go of and/or forgive, and looking ahead to what I want for myself in the upcoming year. These cold, dark weeks at the start of the year are a fitting time to do this.

If like me you are feeling the seasonal pull, rather than what society seems to be doing, a few simple things to help you care for yourself are:

  • Listen to your body

Do you need more sleep or rest? Could you do with saying no to a few social or work engagements so you can rest? Would it feel good to go for a walk instead of a hard training session? Perhaps you are craving warm, nourishing soups and curries, not cold salads and smoothies? What is your body telling you it needs?

  • Eat seasonally

We have access to food from all over the world, year round now. But this usually means the foods not in season have travelled miles and been ripened in a warehouse losing a lot of their nutritional content. Next time you are food shopping have a look at where you food has come from and pick items from closer to home (or even better, buy it from a local farmers market when you can).

  • Get outside every day

No matter where you are in the world, getting out into the fresh air and sunlight (even if it is cold) is essential for our wellbeing. This is extra important for the shorter days and especially if you suffer from S.A.D (season affective disorder). You may notice your mood drop if you don’t get outside enough during the winter.

  • Take time to review the year gone

Often we move so fast on to the next thing, we don’t take time to look back and acknowledge how far we’ve come and celebrate ourselves, or acknowledge the learnings. The start of the year when it’s still dark and much of nature is asleep is a great time to do this. Allow yourself to reflect and go inward, letting experiences and learnings integrate, taking insights and being proud of how far you have come. This will help to strengthen your foundation for growth and things you want.

  • Set feelings rather than goals

Rather than creating a whole new list of goals you want to achieve in the coming year, come up with a list of feelings you would like to experience. Then as you start your year, look to do things that will help you experience these feelings . You may find this makes things happen for you much more easily as you can vary how you approach them throughout the year and not feel like you have to do things in a set way. For example, how you approach a feeling in the winter will likely vary from what you will do to experience it in the summer.

Honouring that we are cyclical beings and working in harmony with your body and the seasons will have an overall positive affect on how you feel throughout the year. You may also notice that your energy and moods are more consistent as you are honouring your body’s needs and working with it, not against it.

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Further reading:

Self-care for when you're feeling overwhelmed

Societal goals and stress

Setting self-care resolutions for the new year

Can we drive for success and still be kind to ourselves?