How to Cultivate Active Rest and Renewal in the Winter Months

Winter is the perfect time of the year to actively cultivate a rest and renewal program. For many of us, me included, Winter is a difficult time of the year where we feel heavier, sleepier and generally get a little bummed about the colder days and less sunshine. If this is how you feel as we approach winter, why not engage in active rest, work with the natural rhythms of nature and honour what your body is craving?

What if with a few tweaks to your home, your activities and your outlook you could begin to embrace winter, and possibly even learn to love it? Yes, I’m scoffing in shock horror as I say this too.

But there is plenty to learn from our Northern Hemisphere friends. In particular the Danes who consistently rank at the top of the happiness scale.

Dial up your cosiness

One of the reasons is hygge (pronounced “hoo-ga”) has recently become a buzz word for all things cozy and comforting. The word is hard to translate literally, but it speaks of coziness, contentment and well-being. A sense that life is good, and meant to be enjoyed. The Danes have learned how to celebrate winter and make it a lovely time of warmth, comfort and enjoyment.

We could take a page from their book and learn to do the same. Try sitting on the couch of an afternoon with a good book and blanket together with your favourite cup of tea. Arrange afternoon tea with some friends or family and enjoy a hot slice of apple crumble or carrot cake with a warm cuppa of your favourite brew.

Niksen Is the Dutch Lifestyle Concept of Doing Nothing. The Dutch concept is truly as simple as, well, doing nothing. Niksen “literally means to do nothing, to be idle or doing something without any use,” says Carolien Hamming, managing director of CSR Centrum, a coaching center in the Netherlands that helps clients manage stress.

Niksen, the art of doing nothing

Where mindfulness is about being present and in the moment, niksen is more about carving out time to just be. Letting the mind wander rather than focusing on the details of an action – think lying down and watching the clouds float past or staring at the wind blowing some autumn leaves around.

Doing nothing may seem lazy but for some of us, it is harder than we think. The mere thought of sitting still for 30 mins can send the best of us into a flurry of productivity to feel as though we’ve earnt that rest.

If you’re someone that finds it difficult to embrace the concept of niksen, then you may want to sit quietly with some knitting, a puzzle or a gentle yoga practice such as yin or restorative yoga. The important thing is to try and cultivate time each week where you actively do nothing much at all.

Since we live increasingly busy lives, these concepts are growing in popularity to combat the busy and constantly connected lives we lead, for stress management and general wellbeing.

Create a lovely nest

If you are someone like me, who suffers the “winter blues” then exposing yourself to more light such as creating a space in your home where you get more sunshine or creating a tropical oasis with indoor plants might be beneficial. I like to add a few extra lamps and candles to my space in the winter, in particular a salt lamp which creates a warm, pink glow adding some summer to any room. If you have a fireplace, fill a basket with wood and pinecones and enjoy the art of building a fire as part of your mindfulness practice.

You may even wish to rearrange your lounge room furniture or add a few new cushions or new plush rug to your space to make it more inviting and encourage conversation amongst your guests.

Creating a space and practice you can enjoy the quieter, cooler months will encourage you to embrace the winter and maybe even come to love it.

For more yoga tips and insights, stay up to date with the Yoga For Good Foundation Blog.

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