1. Know and celebrate the true meaning of the season.
Winter is the perfect time for kindling relationships, including the one you have with yourself. The cold temperatures and dark days make us stay indoors, giving us the excuse we need to finally take time for ourselves. Be gentle during this season, making sure to stay warm and to get plenty of rest. All of the days leading up to the solstice, give thanks to the darkness for bringing you this time. After the solstice has passed, give thanks to the light, for heralding spring and the return of warmth. Don’t feel pressure to celebrate in ways that bring you down i.e. drinking too much, eating too much sugar, spending too much money…Instead celebrate by meditating, decorating with things found outdoors, and all of the below ideas :-) Celebrate the fact that you are alive, and celebrate the other loved ones you have that are alive. Be ever so thankful, and above all, be present. See #9.
2. Indulge your inner child.
Tis the season for being a kid again! If you live somewhere that snows, go outside and make a snow angel, build a snowman, have a snowball fight, catch a snowflake on your tongue! If it hasn’t snowed or doesn’t snow, climb a tree-with no leaves left you can have a great view! Go ice skating with a friend. See #5 and make a gingerbread house or gingerbread men :-)
3. Make snowflakes.
I never had been very good at making paper snowflakes…that is until I learned about pinterest-ing ‘snowflake patterns‘. Do it! It is really fun to do, and would be a fun holiday party activity. It is rewarding to see how cool they turn out, and it is always a surprise :-)
4. Make herbal tonics. Fire cider, cordials etc.
Making herbal concoctions during winter is the perfect thing to do with all of those dried herbs you have around. Winter is a tough season for plant lovers, so what better way to overcome the emptiness! Fire cider is probably the most classic recipe to make during this time of year. You can find my recipe here. Cordials can also be fun to make and are really delicious. These are herbal extracts diluted with whole fruit concentrate which you drink as an aperitif. You can find my recipe for cordials here. Of course, there are many other yummy and delicious herbal recipes to make this time of year, too!
5. Bake. Or enjoy the product of someone else’s baking.
I think everyone can agree that the smell of freshly baked whatever brings to mind the holidays. I personally love to bake and have been making rolls, cookies, and other goodies left and right. It warms the house from the oven heat and makes the entire place feel sooo cozy. And then you get to eat the stuff! If you don’t bake, go to a friend or family member’s house who does and ask them to bake for you :-) Decorating cookies is a fun activity for any age group, and so is making a gingerbread house!
6. Stay Cozy.
Staying warm during winter is crucial to maintaining overall vitality. Pull out every blanket you have and place them all around your home, so that wherever you are there is a blanket to curl up into. Wear big comfy socks or slippers, warm sweaters and scarves inside your home. Traditional Chinese Medicine says that there is a place in the back of the neck where we absorb and release chi. In winter it is important to keep the back of the neck warm at all times to avoid loss of chi and illness. Allow yourself to spend some time all bundled up by the window or by a fire. Meditate or read a favorite holiday story. Draw a holiday picture! Whatever you want to do.
7. Make tea. Mull cider.
Warm beverages are my best friend in winter. Herbal teas are wonderful, and they can even brighten a blue spirit or lull a restless mind. Mulling cider is a fun activity and it makes the house smell amazing! Cinnamon stick, whole clove, apple stars, orange peel, and other herbs can be added to make a most warming and nourishing cider. I have one recipe I like to make here.
8. Make hot chocolate on the stovetop.
Do not just open a packet of powder and dump it into hot water. That is not hot chocolate. Make it from scratch by warming milk over the stove, slowly melting in real chocolate. Don’t forget to top with marshmallows! This one goes along with indulging your inner child…who doesn’t love a hot, sweet cup of cocoa!
9. Enjoy ‘presence’.
This goes along with celebrating the true meaning of the season. Be present. Be here now. See the miracles of life, the miracles of Earth. I wrote a post on presence instead of presents last year. You can read it here. Learning how to be present can bring you the greatest gift you’ve ever known…it is certainly difficult to do all day, every day…but it is definitely something to work towards. By simply taking a moment to focus on your breath you can retrieve so much peace within yourself. Try saying “I breathe in, I breathe out” while taking big deep, slow breaths. I guarantee you will feel so much better with just a few breaths.
Go for it. Stay in bed all day long. Or curl up on the couch and watch your favorite holiday movies. Definitely make sure to take several days this season to just lounge around in your most comfy pajamas and truly relax.