Self-care is vital, especially in the winter months when darkness—quite literally—settles in. “We respond to the weather, the seasons, the moon, our emotions, and the food we eat.”
Self-care is vital—many of us know this, and especially during stressful times, we know we should probably be doing more of it. More exercise, more fiber, more hot baths … it can sometimes feel like there’s so much on the to-do list that self-care is just another thing to fail at.
But it’s true that it might be more important than ever, as we all deal with the chaos of the pandemic, the darkening winter, and the prospect of a holiday season without parties or even family gatherings. One reason so many traditions have holidays in December is because it’s so dark and cold outside and we need each other to cheer up!
Self-care can look different, however, during different times in our lives. Sometimes it might mean going for a five-mile run every day and drinking a kale smoothie for breakfast. Sometimes it might look like turning off the news and binge-watching a show that allows your mind to rest.
It could include spiritual practices that remind you of the wideness of time and that this too shall pass. It might mean reaching out to a friend and having a chat over the phone or on Zoom about the latest celebrity gossip. It might mean turning off your phone and ignoring everyone so you can focus on a jigsaw puzzle or rearranging your furniture.
Self-care doesn’t necessarily mean living at peak fitness and wellness 24/7. It means taking care of the person you are that day, whoever that happens to be, in a way that actually makes you feel better and not worse. The meaning of feeling better can shift a lot depending on what’s going on in our lives.
A big part of non-attachment is about clearly seeing what is actually happening instead of reacting simply through our expectations or memories of what has happened in the past. Non-attachment allows us to focus on the present moment and to be honest about that without judgment.
If going for a five-mile run every morning clears your head, makes you feel good about yourself, and helps you have a better day, then by all means do that. But if your knees hurt and it makes you feel stressed, depleted, and cranky, then it’s not self-care.
Our bodies shift and change daily, if not hourly. We respond to the weather, the seasons, the moon, our emotions, and the food we eat. Self-care should reflect a sensitive attention to the bodies we have day to day.
So this holiday season is going to look a little bit different from other years. As you think about how to care for yourself in a new situation, consider what actions you can take in your life that actually make you feel better—that bring you comfort, joy, ease, energy, and a sense of health and wellbeing.
You know better than anyone the behaviors that make you feel worse in the long term. Do your best to avoid those. Even if you do partake in a few of these behaviors—drinking too much, eating too much sugar, spending a few too many hours watching TV—remember that we are all doing our best to take care of ourselves in a difficult season. What you need from one day to the next can change, and only you get to decide what that is.
Keep reading: “What to Do With the Winter Blues”