We’ve lost so much of the art of wintering.
There can be so much wisdom living with the seasons. Winter can be used as a time for deep replenishment, sacred rest and inward time, allowing us to re-emerge renewed and ready for a new cycle when spring comes around.
As an Australian, wintering is not an art I’ve grown up with, rather something I’ve slowly remembered and learnt through living in London, tuning into my ancestors, my meditation and other spiritual practices.
I remember coming back to London for the winter of 2019/20 and as the spring emerged wondering: “wow I feel such a rush of energy now, imagine if I’d really conserved my energy over the winter and could really take advantage of this rather than feeling burnt out”. Feeling extremely depleted during the colder months, I’d been frustrated about how slow I felt, unable to keep up with my summer level of energy when it came to work and motivation.
It was then I realised that a big part of my dislike for winter was the dissonance I felt trying to live a ‘summer’ level of life, during the winter season, which is designed for deep rest and insight.
This insight is nothing new – it’s ancient wisdom, a very logical one, – yet somehow so lost in our modern society in a constant “go, go, go and more, more more” mode.
Last winter, I decided to change my approach. I decided to try to learn how to lean into winter rather than spending three months hating and resisting it. In the locked-down winter of 20/21, I experimented by working with my energy, using different self-care practices and taking a different approach and outlook.
I sampled various technologies, read about how my ancestors likely got through this season and although it would be a far stretch to say I’m a winter person, I came out of the winter in one piece.
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. Normally a morning person, I do my meditation routine, yoga followed by work and beloved afternoon walk. ….Since during the winter the sun goes down at around 3.30 pm, I’ve found switching up my routine and going out around 8-9am for a walk has helped me feel so much better. So don’t be afraid to seasonally switch up your daily routine if you have the flexibility to do that.
- Waking up with a UV light alarm. Lumi is my favourite. With the circadian-rhythm-friendly gentle light coming on, I feel less groggy and no longer have the experience of waking up in the dark with a fright. If you need extra UV light you can buy a desk lamp, but the light alarm and getting outdoors is generally enough for me.
- Vitamin D drops – oil-based and 1000IU – take 5 drops a day.
- Slowing down. What’s not essential on your ‘to-do list? Winter is for resting. Before electricity, TV and phones were invented, people used to rest more in the winter. Resting more now, will pay off come spring and summer. Winter is the time to just be, let ideas percolate and go with the flow rather than work yourself to the bone. For me doing less and being ok with it was a huge coping strategy this last winter.
- Space Clearing. Windows shut and stagnant air is a recipe for lethargy. Do a space clearing regularly and feel the difference. I share more about it HERE.
- Meditation, Move, Create, Dance. Going within is what winter is all about. However, if you feel you need to shift something to allow your deepest self some expression time, I created a Wintering playlist with loads of tracks to take you on a journey. I love having this playlist on whilst I’m journalling, stretching and pottering around the house, drinking cups of tea and having spontaneous moments of movement and dance when the music changes. There are a few songs to sing along, and songs to be still, listen deeply and receive some spoken word wisdom, 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.
When we change how we approach winter, live more in sync with the natural cycle of the season and realise the gifts of insight and deep rest that it brings, it can totally change our perspective and experience of the season. Working with this kind of winter wisdom and using this time for meditation and other ‘inward’ practices is hugely beneficial.
When we give ourselves permission to deeply rest, rejuvenate and stop trying to operate on ‘summer’ energy I feel this can make a huge difference. In addition, we naturally benefit from feeling that ‘springtime rush’ of energy by being in a grounded and rested place to really go with it.
Being able to connect with others about this is super important as often when we feel low. When suffering from Seasonal Affective Disorder, we can withdraw and feel even more lonely Talking to others and sharing how you’re feeling as well as wintering tips can be really helpful.
For me, community, spiritual connection, nutrition, winter wisdom and movement are all keys to making winter feel so much more enjoyable and reducing the effects of Seasonal Affective Disorder.
If you’d like to find out more about my Wintering Together group you can do so here, and I wish you a beautiful winter filled with deep rest and insight.
Belinda Matwali is a Spiritual Mentor and Meditation Guide. She has over ten years of experience in meditation training and study and completed 19 meditation trainings with her Masters in India.
She offers 1-2-1 Spiritual Mentoring through which she encourages and guides people back to their deepest self and learn meditation tools that suit them individually that they can always come back to. Meditation is not one size fits all, so Belinda really listens to tune into what each person needs.
She’s collaborated with Deliciously Ella, Sweaty Betty, Wanderlust, Beatport and more. If you’re curious about working with Belinda either in a Spiritual Mentoring capacity or through a course or workshop, please arrange a free 15min call via her website.