Embracing Winter: An Emotional Guide

Woman-In-Winter-Forest

Are you tired of winter yet? 

You’re not alone! A lot of people struggle with the second half of winter.  

The first half of winter—with all the holiday bustle, excitement over the first snow, and leftover energy from fall—is often easier. We’re often so busy in the first half of winter that the cold weather, lack of sun, and snow hardly bother us! 

But in the second half of winter, these things can become harder to ignore and endure. And you may find yourself struggling, emotionally and physically, through January (truly, the “Monday” of the months), dealing with disappointment over your already-losing-momentum-New-Year’s-resolutions, or struggling with the tedious chore of doing your taxes. 

But, much as we may like to have spring delivered to us like a same-day-delivery Amazon package—we can’t. Winter will take its time, as much time as it needs to do its work. 

And so, for our own sake, we must learn to embrace the beauty of winter! We must learn to value what winter brings us emotionally and physically. And we must learn how to be with winter for as long as it lasts. 

And winter does have its benefits! Done right, winter can be a sacred time of deep rest, rejuvenation, and reflection, granting us the perspective and even the wisdom we need for the coming year.

Trust us—spring will be even better if you do winter right first!

So let’s dive into winter. Let’s learn how to get along with this “season of extremes” and discover how essential oils and the iTOVi Scanner can help us along the way!

Step 1: Prioritize Warm and Cozy Comfort

Winter is the perfect time to combat workaholism/the psychological defense mechanism of over-productivity! Let winter give you permission to stop and rest! There is truly no better time to just let yourself just be. 

Let yourself follow the example of nature. Nature’s plants, and many of its animals, know instinctively that winter is the time for warmth and rest.

Show your body you really mean to let it rest by curling up with warm blankets some evenings (instead of staying “busy”). Really get the comfort to go deep with added warmth—warm meals, warm hugs, warm drinks (the kind that makes your heart feel like a cozy little furnace in your chest), warm baths (Epsom salts and oils recommended!), and warm foot baths or foot rubs. 

Take it to the emotional level with some self-connection exercises like meditation, gentle yoga, emotional self-check-ins with your iTOVi Scanner, and even little “nostalgia” trips to warm your heart with good memories! Revisit favorite old movies, songs, traditions, family memories, and precious keepsakes. 

If you like to do chakra meditations, take some time to focus on your root chakra! Now is a great time to reinforce your sense of home, safety, and nurturing. Remember that time spent recovering and tending to your foundations is not time wasted!

Step 2: Embrace the Cold

Winter is a time of extremes. And just as you make time to be warm and comfortable, you should also take time to embrace the cold as part of your winter experience! 

Don’t overdo it (we don’t want anyone getting sick), but make a little time to go walking in the winter weather. Feel the snow. Breathe the crisp winter air (and notice how it smells too!)

The truth is, a little cold exposure is physically good for you! Or, as Dr. Liz Carter put it: “Short exposures to cold can be extremely therapeutic, as they jumpstart our metabolism and promote healthy circulation. This concept is one of the foundational ideas of naturopathic medicine.” 

In fact, certain people and cultures have become experts at appreciating the world in wintertime! For example, in Norway, where winter gets about as cold as possible, they still take time to go out and feel it! 

One Norwegian psychology researcher, Ida Solhaug has said: “Although it can be a bit of a strain to get out, when you first are outside, with good clothing, it always feels better than you thought it would: less windy and less cold than it looked from inside. You feel refreshed, you feel maybe a little bit robust and vital, and you feel the benefits of being in contact with the elements.”

So, bundle up and go out! 

You can even enjoy the coolness of winter indoors with cooling and invigorating essential oils like peppermint and wintergreen!

Step 3: Include Joy and Beauty

The joy and beauty of winter are not intrusive—but they are there, ready to be found by those who are willing to look. For although winter symbolizes death, endings, and transformations (more on that later), there is also joy and beauty in these things! 

(Albeit, typically, a deep visceral comforting kind of joy instead of the heady, thrilling kind of joy championed by other seasons.)

Take time to see the beauty of nature in quiet repose. Notice the beauty of the snow, migratory flocks of birds flying by, the stillness of the landscape, and the gentle, almost imperceptible hum of a world at rest. 

Feel the earth’s joy in being able to rest after a year’s worth of hard work. Let it bring comfort and joy to you, especially as you sit under snow-laden boughs and allow yourself to absorb the sheltering comfort of the season along with the earth. 

Take some time to create. Honor and bring additional beauty to winter by working with winter crafts! Salute the beauty of winter and commemorate what is and what has passed with your art. You may choose to make evergreen wreaths, put together scrapbooks, paint, have a little family party, dance a little—whatever helps you celebrate the beauty of winter, what is, and what has passed. 

Remember to appreciate the sun—because, even though it’s not bringing you as much warmth as other seasons, it is still rising every day to light and warm the earth! For you. Take just a bit of time to appreciate it and the other supportive elements and people in your life. 

And don’t forget your citrus oils! Citrus oils are, emotionally, the oils most closely associated with joy! And it’s no coincidence that most citrus fruits ripen in the winter season!

Step 4: Engage with the Dark & the Pain

Winter has a reputation of being a dark, lonely, and sometimes even painful time of year. But really, that is one of winter’s gifts! 

Winter is the perfect time to face ourselves, our fears, and the darkness in our lives. It’s a great time to reflect on things, to bravely go to some of those darker places in our minds, confront and feel our pain, admit our faults, and process difficult emotions so that we can eventually let them fall behind with the past year. 

 This is the prime time of year to be a little more introverted and choosy about how you spend your hours. Let the dark and the quiet of the season help you go where you need to go emotionally. Doing so will feed and renew your emotional roots so you can be more generous and lively with your energy in spring and summer!

In some parts of the world, this process was facilitated by the tradition of gathering indoors on winter nights to tell scary stories! Storytelling can be a useful tool, a looking glass if you will, to help us delve into our own minds. 

Also, the beautiful, dark, and quiet solitude of winter nights can help with your reflections. Take a little time, if it is safe, to go on a winter night’s walk to let the deep ponderous spirit of the season reach you. You may also choose to study the winter night through your window. 

But apart from storytelling and savoring the winter night—there are many other ways to move your winter emotional journey along, such as journaling, meditation, yoga, art, and much more. Find a way that works for you! Follow your intuition so winter can bring you its great gifts of insight and growth!

Don’t Rush

Also, it’s important to pace yourself. Don’t take on too much cold and discomfort (physically or emotionally) all at once! Winter emotional work is hard internal work, but the  winter season is slow and steady. It teaches us to be grounded, thorough, and unrushed. 

So be sure to stop often to check in with yourself! Learn how to recognize and switch gears when (due to physical or emotional reasons) you need a break. Stop to rest and replenish your energy (eat, take a brain break, and get some healthy social interaction in) before you continue on your winter journey.

The iTOVi Scanner is a great tool to help you check in with yourself over the course of the winter season. Also, you may find grounding oils such as Vetiver, Black Pepper, Patchouli, and Sandalwood helpful. 

Don’t Ask When Spring Will Come…Ask How You Can Make the Most of Winter

Spring will come. 

Mother Nature, for all her wildness, is also quite consistent! She always breaks winter with the emergence of spring—eventually. 

But in the meantime, try to regard winter as a gift! And remember, it’s a gift you have limited time to savor before it goes away again. 

Winter can have a cold, hard, and rough exterior sometimes. But on the inside, she is gentle, magical, nurturing, wise, and supportive. 

So (whether the groundhog sees his shadow this Thursday or not), embrace winter! Savor the warmth and the cold! Take time for joy as well as time for emotional processing! Winter’s unique atmosphere and gifts won’t be available to us for too much longer—so don’t miss out! 

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