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JANUARY TIPS: Easy Winter Mindfulness

I don’t know about you, but when I hear the ‘New Year, New You‘ message, it can have a spring-clean kind of energy to it that’s a little at odds with how I’m actually feeling in January.

After the festive season is over, there is the rest of the winter to get through. During these weeks that are still dark and cold, I don’t always want to motivate and energise myself, so much as hunker down until it starts getting lighter and warmer.

So I turn to my mindfulness practice at this time to support and uplift. Becoming more mindful doesn’t have to feel like hard work – there is plenty of room for comfort and giving ourselves a break.

This month I’m sharing ideas for ‘positive resourcing’ practices that can help to counteract the bleakness of the last remaining stretch of winter. They might feel too easy to label as ‘practice’, but that might be just what’s needed as we ease ourselves back into the swing of things.

Maximising comfort

‘Taking in’ physical sensations that feel good can have a calming effect. The first step in this practice is learning to notice these sensations, and begin to find them more often throughout your day.

In winter, I particularly like to focus on sensations of warmth and softness. For example, I can find warmth in a cup of tea, a hot water bottle, or the winter sun coming through a window. Cold weather is also a great prompt to cosy up in a soft blanket.

Once you are finding positive sensations more often, you can deepen the practice by fully taking them in: really let yourself have that experience of comfort and ease, as fully as possible. The nervous system responds well to somatic mindfulness practices like these, that are grounded in awareness of body sensations.

Mindfulness of food

Being mindful of food brings together the practices of self-kindness and appreciation. For me, cooking nourishing food is an important part of self-care, aswell as a prompt for gratitude.

The earth provides us with sustenance even in the depths of winter, and I make it a practice to consciously appreciate this as I prepare and cook whatever is available. This seasonal aspect of food helps us to maintain a connection to the natural world, and gratitude for what it gives us.

I find that seasonal eating means taking the time to make soups, stews and roasted veg in winter. Not only is this another ‘warmth’ experience, but the cooking time is an opportunity to create quiet space for appreciative awareness.

An outdoors pick-me-up

While it’s tempting to hibernate in January, it can be really uplifting to get outside on a dry winter day. Nature might be quieter, but it’s still there.

We’re part of this natural world, whatever the season, and connecting with nature is well known to boost wellbeing, so I don’t like to miss out on that just because it’s cold. In fact my New Year’s Day walk this week was one of the most restorative times outdoors that I’ve enjoyed all year.

Wrapping up well offers yet another way to take in a sense of comfort and care, as does a warm drink afterwards!

As a final thought, I do also like to curl up with my journal when it’s cold and dark outside, a practice I explored in last month’s tips on mindful journaling.

Further Practice Resources

Guided meditations that complement this month’s theme are ‘Finding The Positive’, which you can find with the Short Meditations, or ‘Supported By The Earth’, a somatic body awareness practice listed on the main Meditations page.

To read more about somatic (body-based) mindfulness, see Relaxing As Letting Go

For additional mindful living practices that aren’t hard work, check out How To Experiment With Mindful Living

If you’d like to learn more with me…

My next Mindful Living Class in February will include a look at being less hard on ourselves.

You can also learn mindfulness 1-to-1 with me via Skype – see the Coaching Programme for more info.

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