I find winter hard. I’ve written on my Instagram about how much I prefer Halloween to Christmas…. although this year does feel easier. My mental health is much better, AND I’ve created the HiberNATION to celebrate the cosy, dark vibes of this time of year. So I’m feeling a lot more chilled out about the Christmas part of winter (you can read about the Christmas I stayed in bed and ate pizza here!), but I’m wondering how we can create some intentional rituals to fight off the post-Christmas blues….
Christmas day comes so close to Solstice; here in the UK it’s bang in the middle of the darkest time. We’re celebrating the returning of the light. But it’s a slooooow return, and still a way to go before hibernation time is over.
Once the decorations come down on Twelfth Night, it can feel kind of bleak, can’t it? We been collecting and doing things that helps us survive the winter and lift our spirits – pretty lights, evergreens, socialising, exchanging gifts, eating comfort food – and then at New Year BAM! We give them all up again, even though there’s a lot of winter left. Astrologically, Solstice marks the START of winter!
I used to work with a lovely lady called Mel, who would countdown to Valentines Day, because from that point she knew she could pretty much always drive home from work at 5.30pm without her headlights on. It’s a nice measure of when the evenings begin to get lighter again.
So, what can we do to look after ourselves and each other as we wait for the light to come back…? Here are some ideas:
- January Decorations! Apparently, the tradition of taking the Christmas decorations down to avoid bad luck is a Pagan one, linked to the evergreens and their foliage – you could deck the halls, but you had to get them back outside by the 6th of January or the tree spirits would start to get antsy. So last year we made sure we got the tree outside, then kept some of the fairy lights, and jiggled around some of the not-to-festive decorations. It definitely helped the house to feel warm and welcoming. Other years, I have purposefully made January decorations to replace the Christmas ones, to brighten the place up and celebrate the New Year.
- Join the HiberNATION. Recognise that it is still winter, all the things that helped us before Christmas ARE STILL ALLOWED! Pyjamas, chocolate, snuggling, catching up with friends, bingeing on box sets, knitting and/or wearing all the warm knitted stuff… keep making time for the cosy things that nurture your heart and soul. This is the best time of year to enjoy this stuff! You don’t have to stop just cos it’s not December any more 🙂
- Look for the beauty. Right now, my garden is a muddy quagmire. Every time the dog comes in, we gain some indoor mud too. Sometimes I have to search out the beauty of this time of year. But it’s there. The resting quiet, like the pause in between breaths. The silhouettes of trees against pastel winter skies. Ice, frost and snow. And then slowly, the tiny signs that start to creep in of returning life and noise, like snowdrops and little shoots of green bursting up from the mud…
- Do some reflecting and look to the future. I’m not one for full-on, high-pressure New Years Resolutions, but there is a ton of advice out there about setting intentions or themes for the year. This year I think I will do a little bit of journalling to reflect back on the previous year, create a list of things to look forward to in the next year, and list some of the qualities I’d like to call in to my life for 2020. (If you need some help, my friend Alice is doing a mini-course that could be just the thing!).
- Allow your feelings. Winter is by nature a darker time, for slowing down, reflecting and planting seeds. You don’t have to be ‘jolly’. It’s ok to feel whatever you feel. I think we can sometimes make things harder for ourselves if we fight what we truly feel. I’m working on welcoming my emotions and seeing what they are here to tell me. And a lot of the time in winter, they’re saying ‘go slow, be gentle, plant seeds.’
And, as ever, allow time for self care 🙂