For those of us in the Northern Hemisphere January can be very dreary and gloomy, especially if you’re somewhere that tends to rain or have grey skies like the UK! The sparkle of the holidays has worn off and it’s back to routine now and it can be rough.
So let’s talk about what gets us through the darker times. Whether a dreary winter, depression, or something else, how do we take care of ourselves when we need to show ourselves loving kindness?
For me I have a few old tried and true tactics that I rely on and some new ones that I’ve incorporated into my self care routine more recently to help give me a boost.
My Self Care Habits
Sometimes I need to get out of my head. It depends on what mood I’m in but reading or music help me do this. Or if I don’t have the energy or capacity for something like reading, putting on an old favourite telly program to distract me. My go to telly programs are The Magicians, Schitt’s Creek, One Tree Hill, or Gilmore Girls. I can go to any ep of any season of these and just have it on as a comfort distraction.
When I’m feeling blah a soak in the bath is always a good option. Most of the time I’ll opt for the hot tub rather than an actual bath these days. Growing up at the beach definitely turned me into a water lover and I’m most comforted in or near the water. Sometimes I’ll go to the coast just to sit and look at the water to help me feel better and put things into perspective. (The blog isn’t called Oceanchica dot com for nothing!)
Give in to a craving
Comfort food is something I turn to less often now, but is not to be discounted as a useful tactic (depending on your relationship with food). Mac and cheese is one of my comfort foods, so when I’m really craving it I make a massive batch and freeze the portions. It’s always a little boon when I am in need of something like that and I remember I have some in the freezer. Any American foods are pretty standard comfort foods for me!
Get a change of scenery
Getting outside is one I’ve relied on a lot more the last two years. Going outside to get fresh air, exercise and quality time with myself and/or hubby is one of the best ways to get my mood lifted, even when skies are grey. Alternatively, going for a drive is another way to get out. When I was never able to sleep at night in college I’d drive around at night. It was one of my favourite things to do at night when there was no traffic or noise.
Connect with someone
Writing my feelings to get them out, or talking to someone to just talk it out or vent helps. It gives me an opportunity to let some of my heaviness go and sometimes I’m reminded that I’m stronger than what I’m going through. Having someone to trust that is supportive is immeasurable.
Get hygge with it
In winter especially (but this works all year round too), curling up under heavy blankets, hot chocolate, candles or fairy lights – either all together or even each on their own – all help. Naps are definitely a plus. Taking a duvet day where I can curl up, switch off from the world and check in with myself is something I don’t do often enough.
Check in with yourself
Meditation and yoga are useful tools to raising awareness of my feelings and how I’m doing physically and emotionally. Not everyone gets on with these activities though and that’s perfectly okay.
But please bear in mind these are all what I’d call ‘surface’ tactics; they work, but only so much. If what you’re going through is long-term or unbearable then getting help and support from a professional is the best way to find a path to getting better!