Self Care During the Winter


I woke up this morning to reminders that today is the Winter Solstice –– the shortest day of the year, and the darkest time in Earth's northern hemisphere –– and it got me thinking about how drastically my needs change during the fall and winter months. This is the time of year where many of the earth's species migrate or hibernate, and humans will find that we are not very different. Some of us are traveling to warmer climates this time of year, while others are hunkering down in our dens with hot drinks, warm socks, and our trusty friend, Netflix. But, no matter where we go or what we do during these cold and dark months, we've all noticed a difference in the way we must care for our physical and emotional selves.


Beginning in fall and carrying on until the spring, I find myself falling asleep and waking up earlier. This is a sign that my body is in alignment with the earth and moon cycles, and it's a good thing. I do my best not to fight against the natural order of things, as I know this is the way God intended our bodies to operate. So, when the sun sets around 5:30pm, I begin my descent. By 8pm, I'm in bed, and before 10pm, I am fast asleep and down for a full 8 hours. Naturally, this means I am up very early in the morning.


Depending on what time I fall asleep between 8pm and 10pm, I find myself awake from as early as 4am, and as "late" as 6am. Either way, the most amazing thing about waking up this time of the morning is the pace and quiet that only early mornings can bring. During this time, I practice my waking up ritual, take time to pray, practice a bit of self-care and exercise. Some mornings, I catch up on work, as well, and find that I have gotten more done by 10am than most people accomplish all day long.


During the warmer months, it can be much easier to drink more water, as we clamor to quench our thirsts in the heat. Most people find themselves drinking less water in the colder months, but this is the time you should drink even more water than before! The winter months are so drying to my skin and hair, so I find myself drinking most of my allotted water intake in the morning, soon after waking up. Even though I am careful to moisturize my face and body every night before bed, I wake up so dry! Keeping my water intake high is the first line of defense against the change in the weather.


First thing in the morning, I moisturize. Several times throughout the day, I moisturize. Right before bed, I moisturize. I also continue to drink about a gallon of water very 24 hours, so that my body can stay detoxed and lubricated from within. This time of year, my skin and hair dry out from the weather and the use of the heater in our home and our car. Hot, cold, hot, cold. Ugh. So, a very important part of my daily self-care in the use of oils and non-toxic lotions for my face and body, as well as my favorite non-toxic lip and hand balms.


People tend to go nuts during this time of year. Emotions are running high, and stress levels are out of control. For me, in order to stay in a place of peace and love, I practice avoidance. I don't want to know about anyone's issues right now. I don't want to tune into world news and politics. I don't care to know what the latest gossip is, or what everyone is talking about. And if anyone has an issue with me or life, I don't want to hear about it. Now, to be honest, this is the way I operate all throughout the year, but I am especially keen to ramp up this practice during the fall and winter months. I avoid excess stress as a way to protect my energy, especially since it's darker, longer. This is high-time for depression and overwhelming sadness, and seasonal darkness and chill only stand to add to those feelings. So, I'm sure to fortify my self-care bubble and avoid almost anything.


This is also a great time to learn. Books, articles, webinars, documentaries –– wherever you can find education and inspiration, now is the time to practice this sort of self-care. I don't celebrate pagan holidays, so while the rest of the world speeds up, I tend to slow down and pay more attention to myself, overall. Learning about topics of interest is a big part of that change in speed for me.

Now is a good time to repair your body and spirit in preparation for the new year and the regeneration of the earth, come springtime. Slow down. Ease into your sleep and wake. Respect the cycles of the earth and moon. Drink lots of water and moisturize. Avoid drama and chaos at all costs, and fill your brain with knowledge.

Happy solstice!

Elisabeth Ovesen