Winter can be tough. It’s dark. It’s cold. It’s cloudy. Unless of course you’re in Hawaii. In which case you might be okay. But what about the rest of us?
Fret no more dear readers! I have a whole bunch of tips that have worked wonders for me and others. Most of them are quick and easy to implement.
I hope you give at least one of them a try!
When it comes to self-care, it’s not about fighting the winter blues - it’s about working with your relationship to the experience. That’s where the magic is - in your attitude towards your challenges.
1. Give yourself permission to self-care
This is the most important one. I call it the keystone tip. If you can give your permission to self-care, you’ll be in a great position to nourish yourself and try some of these other tips too. Admit to yourself ‘I am feeling very tired. I need to recharge regularly. I give myself permission to care for myself. I deserve care just as much as anyone else. I shall do my best to care for myself as I would a good friend.’
Remember, self-care isn’t selfish. Lack of self-care is selfish, as you end up so tired, you can’t help anyone. Self-care is an act of wisdom and compassion for you and ultimately others too.
2. Cook up some tasty porridge
I’ve been having porridge pretty much every morning this winter, and have loved it. I like to cook it with a few Indian spices and even throw in some tomatoes! Porridge is cheap, healthy and perfect for winter. Experiment to see what ingredients most appeal to you.
3. Walk Outside Despite the Weather
I know it’s cold, but getting into the habit of walking everyday, if you can, is powerful. Begin by just putting on your walking shoes everyday when you get downstairs. You may find yourself up for a little walk once you do that. The light from the sun, even though limited, is still far more nourishing than being indoors all day.
4. Pop-in to the Gym?
I’m not a gym fan, but maybe you are. If so, go to the gym - you already know how much better you feel after a workout even if you didn’t want to go initially. I’ll be here cheering you on.
5. Enjoy a warm mindful drink daily - Hmmmmm
You can’t beat a nice cuppa tea or coffee to start the day. Combine with no work, no phone and watching the sun rise for best effect.
6. Try something new - mix it up
It’s easy to get into a rut and repeat the same things every day. I challenge you to try something new. Push your comfort boundaries. Book a new course, offline or online. Walk a different route back home. Make a different dish.
7. Get to Bed 30 minutes earlier
I need my sleep. And so do you. See if you can get to bed a little earlier. People spend on average 10 hours a day on their phones. Reduce that by 30 minutes and get into bed earlier to enjoy a better sleep. Zzzzzzz.
8. Meditate Kindfully
I love starting each day with some meditation. Practice at the same time everyday, whenever it suits you. Try my Kindfulness course if you need some guidance.
9. Call a friend
Socialising is vital for most people. But in winter, it’s harder to get out of the house. If so, just call a friend instead. You’ll still get many of the benefits of meeting in person...apart from the hug!
10. Block social media using apps...or just switch off
11. Start a new or old hobby indoors
I haven’t really found time for this yet. But if this appeal to you, it’s a great way to relax. Colouring in, doing jigsaws, knitting, making model planes - the list is pretty much endless!
12. Start a small, new habit! It’s transformative once you know how.
13. Mindful cooking is yummy
Cooking is a sensual experience. Get in the now and enjoy cooking a delicious meal for you or some friends. A great way to recharge and do something healthy at the same time.
14. Go to a fun or relaxing event - you could even join me!
There’s often all sorts of interesting events on Eventbrite or Meetup websites. If you’re free this weekend, come along to our Winter Happiness Festival in London! I’ll be there - come and say hi!
15. Journal - your mind will thank you
I journal almost everyday. You can start with just one sentence before getting out of bed and build it up from there. Or once you get in bed each evening. Choose a time that right for you, and stick to that time.
16. Write down what you’re grateful for - classic and it works
This has great evidence of its effectiveness for wellbeing and beating the blues. Just write down 3 things you’re grateful for and why. Practising before doing to bed helps to deepen your sleep.
17. Do something playful - it’s no joking matter
Have some fun in your life. Turn up the tunes and dance! What fun stuff could you do today?
18. Reflect on what gives you meaning and purpose
Happiness isn’t just about chasing pleasure, although pleasure is important. It’s about purpose too. What gives your life meaning? See if you can do more of that. Check out Ikigai for more on this.
19. Treat yourself to some new plants
A bit of nature in the home feels good! And I’m sure they give off some positive vibes that would make you feel better - especially if you water and care for them. One piece of research found the elderly literally lived years longer if they had a plant they needed to look after.
20. Organise a small part of your home - gives you a sense of control
Get organised. Start with just a drawer and see how you go from there. It’ll make you feel more in control. When you start small, it gives you motivation momentum and spreads to other areas of your life too.
21. Read a real book - no more screens
Take a break from the screen and pull out a paperback. If you’ve read everything in your house, why not pop to your local bookstore and treat yourself? Or your local library may have something nice for you to read too.
22. Watch a nature program...on a screen!
You can’t beat a bit of David Attenborough to remind you of the wonder of planet earth. Better still, step outside and marvel at your surroundings directly. But if you’re ill or too cold, a nature documentary is fine.
23. Book a meditation or yoga retreat
Retreats are a great way to recharge. There’s so many available online. Have a look and see if any take your fancy. Buddhist retreats are often low cost or donation based. And some other religious ones are too, I’m sure. Here in the UK I recommend Amaravati, Gaia House and 42 Acres is a nice venue. If you want to do a one to one retreat with me, message me!
24. Send flowers or a thank you card - generosity is good for all.
Do an act of kindness! I plan to send some today to say thank you.
25. Be kind to your mind
Kindness begins with yourself. I recommend you read Kristin Neff’s books for ideas here. But the best question I find for many is:
‘How can I be kind to myself right now?’
26. Here comes the bath tip!
I had a lovely bath with bath salts from my friend yesterday. Made me nice and relaxed. Go on - you know you deserve it - jump in the bath and includes candles, salts and heavenly music for bonus effect.
27. Treat yourself to a spa
Feel like splashing out? Book a local spa and treat yourself. Winter is the perfect time to pop into a steam room, sauna or jacuzzi.
28. Take a small action towards one of your goals
Moving towards a dream or vision of your ideal future feels good. Take one step towards that today...and everyday.
29. Have a video call with someone.
The kind of experience your brain has when having a video call is similar to that of meeting someone in person. So video call a friend or family member - if they are feeling good, you’ll feel better too.
30. Hire a coach
There’s thousands of coaches out there, waiting to support someone just like you. I’m one of the too! Message me for an initial video call to see if it’s right for you.
31. Deep breathing
Deep breathing is one of the techniques most widely proven to guarantee relaxation. Try these deep breathing exercises I’ve written about.
32. Breathe in some steam
Many people get colds in winter and block sinuses. If you’re one of them, pop some hot water in a large, heat proof bowl and gently breathe in. Cover your head with a towel for added effect. Be very careful not to burn yourself!
See if there’s any parties happening. If so, put your name down and show up. If you’re too shy or tired, you can leave after speaking to at least one person, but you’ll feel good to have achieved that much. Challenge yourself to just show up and speak to at least one person. That’s it! And of course, stay till late if you fancy it.
34. Laughter yoga
This is a lot of fun once you get into it. See these YouTube videos on laughter yoga.
35. SAD light
Some people struggle with the low level of light in winter. If you think that might be you, consider buying one of these lights - it’s worth a try if winter is a big struggle for you.
36. 3 wins
Every evening, write down your 3 wins. Everyday, no matter how hard it is, there are 3 things that went well. Write them down and you’ll be surprised how powerful that action is.
37. Listen to a Podcast or Audiobook
Audio is a nice break from looking at screens. Search on iTunes or Audible.
38. Make a video!
Creating is fun. Record a video or video blog of how you’re feeling. You don’t have to share it - but just have a go. You never know - you may love doing it and want to share with others.
I did it for fun and ended up making a video for our Museum of Happiness too.
39. Share your feelings
This is a really powerful one. Share how you feel with others. It’ll make you feel better and your friends/listener will likely appreciate you confiding in them too.
40. Reuse or Recycle something everyday
Reusing and recycling is all the rage. Do some recycling or reusing and you’ll feel proud that you’ve done your bit for the planet. Every little helps!
41. Mindfully Stretch
If you love yoga, do that. But if yoga is a bit too much of a stretch for you (pun intended), just do some stretching. You body will be very appreciative. I start the day with just 3 stretches...hoping to build up to more as I progress! Here’s some by thich nhat hanh.
42. Place your hand on your heart and say ‘Good Morning My Name, I love you’ - SUPER TIP!
This is not an easy one, but a very powerful one. If you can say good morning to yourself, even that’s a brilliant start. And build up to saying I like you and eventually….I love you. It won’t be easy for many of you, but if you practice CONSISTENTLY, your life will change for the better. That I do 100% believe to be true.
I learnt this from my interview with Shauna Shapiro for the upcoming Mindfulness and Compassion at Work Summit (keep an eye on my website and sign up for our newsletter to know more!).
Hope you enjoyed these tips. Feel free to print them out, stick them on your fridge and distribute and share them with friends. It’s my gift to you all and knowing it may help someone is what gives me meaning. Thank you!
If you’d like to learn more about my approach of combining mindfulness with kindness, consider my free 7 day course. Or my full 8 week program which is currently on sale - includes 60 mini daily videos and over 15 guided kindfulness audio meditations to try.
20 guided Kindful Meditations,
50 High- Definition Videos
200 students have completed the program
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