Harnessing The Power Of Winter For Your Health
Cozying up in bed. Watching the snow fall gently outside. Saying no to anything that takes you out of the front door.
Lack of motivation. Brain refuses to plan. Getting behind on stuff.
The first set of sentences are sweet, gentle, and inviting. The second are harsh, kind of annoying, and frustrating.
But they are both winter. And we have to expect if we want the first part, we’re going to have the second part.
And that’s okay.
Ebb & Flow
One of the biggest issues women and cycling people face is the lack of an integrated ebb & flow in their lives.
As cyclical beings – daily via our circadian rhythm and monthly via our infradian rhythm and yearly via the seasons – we aren’t supposed to be driving forward all of the time.
We live in a culture that is generally – and works actively – against rest. Which is why, in my opinion, so many people hate winter.
Our bodies need rest in order to not only recuperate, but also to heal our gut, help balance our blood sugar, stabilize our heart health and blood pressure, rejuvanate our mitochondria, support lymphatic drainage, and much, much more.
Rest also allows for our creativity to flow, ideas for the Spring and Summer to start popping, and for us to better access our intuition. When we are in a consistently frenetic state, we can’t hear what’s happening inside.
And hearing what’s happening inside is what guides us to make better decisions in our lives, not just when it comes to health, but also in our relationships, career, and larger life purpose.
Feelings Can Arise
Be aware, if you haven’t carved a lot of space for rest in your life up until this point, it can sometimes bring up anxiety or feelings of depression. That’s because all of the things that have been taking up your mental space worked to push down hard or negative memories.
When things to start to get quiet, those memories, thoughts and emotions have a chance to move out of your tissues and into your system to be fully processed.
This is a great time to start working with a licensed therapist and/or energy worker to make sure those emotions are moving through and out of your body, instead of getting stuck.
Harnessing The Power Of Winter
First, let’s talk about some of the physical health benefits of winter (yes, despite popular opinion, there actually are many!):
✨Cooler temperatures help people focus better.
✨Cold weather means more calories burned when you are out hiking.
✨Cold air improves our insulin sensitivity, helping to maintain steady blood sugar levels
✨Allergies take a nose-dive in the winter
✨Most people sleep better when it’s cold
✨Cold weather strengthens your heart
✨It’s easier and more welcoming to eat warming, nourishing, and nutrient-packed foods like soups and stews.
But it’s also one of the best times to start regulating your cortisol, because there aren’t as many things calling for our attention (unless we let them).
Some people use the winter to take a social media break because they feel like they won’t be missing out on as much. Dry January has become a popular way to dial back on a substance that taxes our liver – and therefore, our hormones.
The more you regulate your circadian rhythm – aka cortisol regulation – and support your liver health, the better your menstrual cycle will be, hands down.
Upping Your Spiritual Game
But it’s also a fantastic time to start a meditation practice or do more consistent breath work, as the darkness outside leads to an ease of settling down inside.
Embracing the darkness of winter can aid in embracing the darkness of life itself, as we are both light and dark beings.
When we push away that darkness, it can take over our life, while accepting our darkness provides the ability to transform it into superpowers like empathy, grace, and resilience.
I personally love lighting a (non-toxic!) candle during my winter meditations to help guide my way.
Are you able to begin utilizing winter to support your health and well-being, instead of hinder it? It just takes a bit of flipping-the-script to understand how powerful winter can truly be.