A Winter Wellness List

This year so far has been a weird mix of bright sunshine and dark rain clouds, physically and metaphorically. I either feel light and airy, or weighed down by stresses so heavy I don’t know how to get out from under them. I know sometimes the weather has the guiding hand in my emotions, but at other times the warmth is there regardless of the cold outside, or I’m chilled by stray thoughts in the middle of the sunniest day.

Much of my winter blues are handled by the four essential pillars of health, but occasionally I fall into a deeper trough and need extra help. If that sounds like you, never be afraid to ask for help. A couple of years ago I needed to get my head in a better place and self-referred to Talk Liverpool, where after a couple of assessments I got referred for CBT (Cognitive Behaviour Therapy) and have never looked back. Now I know that if I feel myself slipping there is nothing wrong in stopping, pausing, realigning my skittles and playing on. And in the meantime I keep up my maintenance techniques, which vary very little from winter to summer, except in winter I throw in a few extra bits.

As part of the Hibernate course that Heather Bruggeman used to run annually, one of the first activities was to write a winter wellness recipe. A simple collection of seven activities that Heather would do daily to keep herself well, physically and mentally, during the low season. It’s such an easy idea, but it does work, in as much as it gives you something to aim for and to achieve. No matter what else has happened that day, you kept your foundation solid. And that’s really what the recipe is, a formula to build a solid foundation in your life onto which the extras fit.

My winter wellness list has a couple of extra items on, because they’re items I felt necessary for me. Yours might well have less items on, or be rather more aimed at one particular area of life because that’s where you felt the need. So far, my list is:

  • Regular bedtimes and a bedtime routine. I aim to be in bed by 11.30 and alseep by midnight after a little light reading and a cup of warming chai or herbal tea.
  • 30 minutes of movement inside or out per day. This could be as easy as a walk at lunchtime or be a dance or yoga video in the morning, whichever I feel like. But it must use my muscles and make me breathe deeply.
  • Writing regularly in my journal. I’m a bad diarist, but making space to capture a thought early morning or late evening helps me sort out issues. I’ve been using The Daily Stoic Journal, with a really nice writing ink pen, and that helps me feel rather more like an ancient philosopher capable of sorting my life out than a messed up modern woman.
  • Some time alone every day. This might be when I walk, but sometimes I just find the peace of finding a quiet cafe and sipping a chai in peace an absolute necessity. I don’t even need a book or magazine as entertainment, because I watch the people going by.
  • Eat well, drink well and think well. I bump up my vegetable intake through stews, sauces and soups (although I love meat too much to think of doing veganuary), and I also plan to make more meals from absolute scratch. This year the soda bread recipe from Kate Humble’s Home Cooked is set to be a Saturday breakfast regular. There’s just something about fresh bread that makes me relax. I’m also not signing up to Dry January per se, but my alcohol intake after Christmas has dropped and I’m drinking fresh water rather than soda or pop. And thinking well? That’s my CBT lesson in putting negative thoughts to one side and not catastrophising. Sufficient unto the day, as they say. I’ll worry only about today and let yesterday’s worries be the past, while tomorrow’s worries can always be put off until tomorrow.
  • Budgeting and Bargaining carefully. After the excess that is a modern Christmas, it’s a relief to have a month that has no excess spending in it. The only extravagance I splurged on this month is some decent day cream and night moisturiser from a specifically for the menopause skin care range as well as some rose-scented micellar water to restore a natural glow to my face. So far, so good. I’ve enjoyed having softer skin again, since the menopause had begun to make my forehead feel like a lizard’s back, so dry and scaly as it was. Apart from those, January is a month to sit back and relax with what I have, not to fill up on more stuff.
  • Creating Space to Live well. I am trying to find stuff that I no longer need in my life, just one or two items a day. Small things like books, clothes that no longer suit me or fit me, or tchotchkes that came into my life when I was a different person and that no longer spark joy for me. I have Marie Kondo’s Kurashi at Home to read and review for the blog, and I am seriously seeking only to have joyful objects in my life. The Christmas tree came down at the weekend, and the space we suddenly have reminds me that perhaps mankind isn’t built just to be suppressed by ownership but to be free to be.
  • Finding my Tribe and spending time with them. I am lucky that Liverpool is a temperate climate so, even in the worst of years, we never get completely shut off from civilisation. It’s always possible to plan to meet up with friends and enjoy an evening of laughter, talk and world-changing activism. I have friends it’s good to meet with individually and others that make excellent groups for talking about books, life issues and politics. I’ll make sure I meet up with them in real life or online at some point each week.
  • Remembering Gratitude is the Best Season-all for All Seasons. “Giving thanks always for all things” is a bedrock of many faiths for a reason. If the first prayers you make every morning and the last words you say at night are Thank You, then life is very good and you are living a charmed life. And the strength needed to be thankful for even the worst circumstances is a great gift to carry you through life.

Small steps, but I know they make a big difference to me and help me deal with the Big Outside Problems that sometimes knock at my equilibrium.

What about you? Do you have any tried and tested remedies for the winter blues or life’s all-too present stresses? What calms you and grounds you ready to face another day? If you had to write a winter wellness list what would you put on it? I’d love to see.

How to Hygge the British Way is my gift to the world. I don’t get paid for writing it, I’m not in it for the kudos, financial rewards, to become an influencer, work with brands or otherwise make any money from the blog. That’s why there are no ads, and any products I mention and recommend have either been gifted to me or bought by me with my everyday wages or donations from supporters. Every book I review has been bought and read by me, unless stated otherwise.

I do get a couple of pennies each time someone buys from the Amazon links on my page, as an Amazon Affiliate, but otherwise if you’d like to support me, I like to give something back in return. That’s why I write books. It always feels good if you get a book back in return for some money. You can find a full list of my books at my Author’s Page on Amazon, but especially recommended for this time of year are:

Cosy Happy Hygge: Setting up a rhythm to life and rituals to enjoy it to make for a more balanced life that handles waves and storms better. Lent is a season of rituals and resets. The book has small and easy ways to make your life flow with grace and happiness, which lead to more hygge.

Happier: Probably my most personal book, it’s the story of how I used hygge and the little things in life to help boost my happiness. I still go back and reread to remind myself what I need to do to be a happy human. And it’s always the little things.

And my Christmas books are still all available now to buy ready for next season: 

Have Yourself a Happy Hygge Christmas is the basic, all round Christmas hygge book, with advice and ideas on how to make hygge (the cosiest way to be mindful and live in the moment) a large part of all your celebrations.

Enjoying a Self-Care Christmas is about taking time to look after yourself at the busiest season of all and is only available in ebook, with its own advent calendar of selfcare ideas.

 Celebrating a Contagious Christmas was my answer to Christmas in Lockdowns in 2020 but might (sadly) prove useful for a few more years to come. It has advice on celebrating small scale, and keeping a Christmas flexible. I’m itching to write a new Christmas book, on simplicity, frugality, minimalism and making the meaning of your Christmas more significant, but time, time, time…

If you’d like to support me, but don’t want to buy a book, I have a Paypal.Me account as Hygge Jem. Every little helps, so even a few pence goes towards the books, goods and courses I use and recommend on the site. I’m grateful for every little bit that brings me closer to my dream of full-time writing, and I know I couldn’t still be writing if it weren’t for the support of many readers and friends out there. Thank you all for every little bit of support, emotional, physical and financial, you give me.

If you’ve enjoyed this article, don’t forget to share it or save it so others can enjoy reading, thinking about and living hygge as well.

The photo between post and promotions is a photo by Karen Cantú Q on Unsplash. I liked the scarf, the coffee mug held tightly and the hint of hope for spring to come with the little daisy. And the Header is a photo by Ray Hennessy on Unsplash. I chose it because the flash of the little red bird against the winter blues and greys is like a flash of happiness in a worry-filled life. As long as we know there’s always something, no matter how little, to lift the spirits then we will be fine. Find that flash of red in life, and appreciate it.

3 thoughts on “A Winter Wellness List

  1. I love your blog posts. They are so inspiring!
    I try and get out every day in nature – sit under my sunlamp for 15 minutes journaling in the a.m. Move my body – as in a walk – or Pelaton -or strength training at least 20 minutes a day. I also light candles in the a.m. and P.m. Make my bed everyday and get dressed to shoes. If I sit in my pjs/robe too long etc. I can get depressed. I also make sure I have a good book ready to go and a series on TV. I’m constantly trying to hear what people are reading and watching. Also, making sure I’m watching all the games (NFL, NBA, COLLEGE) sports that are fun to watch this time of year. I also try and plan my weekends with some fun things to do. If I don’t plan my weekends then the weekends get planned for me and I hate that. I also try and not eat everything in site. In the winter I really want to eat a lot. And then I feel like shit. LOL If I’m really “blue” I start cleaning and organizing and decluttering like a mad person. I love to do that anyway despite the weather but in the winter it makes me feel so much better. Winters and even spring is tough for me but I really try and get out in nature no matter the weather. I bought some really warm warm gear so i have no excuse to not get out even if its for 15 minutes. I thrive on routine and HAVE to keep up my routines or I can go down a dark hole. UGH. I just love your blog. You are a light for me when you post. Thank you! Jennifer in Idaho


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