I’ve lived in my house for 3 winters so far and the first was really hard. I’ve always held the internal narrative that I’m not a morning person, which is a tricky story to have when you’re a lone parent getting two little ones to primary school. I didn’t make things easy for myself with that story! I’ve been trying to rewrite it recently. I'm getting there.
Back to 2016, I vividly remember feeling like crying every dark morning where I had to turn the light on to get dressed. It felt physically painful, and as you can imagine, it didn’t make me the best parent at breakfast. I knew something needed to change. In the January, in that wonderful time of post-christmas cobweb clearing, I committed to Yoga With Adriene’s 30 day programme: a short yoga workout every day throughout January. That shifted things, but I didn’t keep it up in February.
What a tough little month you are.
The next Autumn, I started focusing on the winter early. I knew I had to shift my thinking in order to get through. I love Christmas so that was a focus, and would do YWA throughout January… but how could I make February more positive? That’s when I jumped wholeheartedly on the Hygge bandwagon.
Hygge: the Scandinavian concept of hunkering down in winter, snuggling in and getting cosy. It’s about good lighting, good food, good company. Cosy blankets, warm socks and gentle glow from candles or firelight. It went through a horrendous commercialisation, which is why I describe it as a bandwagon, yet the essence is pure. It was a perfect concept to carry me through… one problem though, I was in the middle of some major house renovations. Hygge feels pretty far away when you’ve a constant taste of plaster dust in the back of your throat and you’ve not got a kitchen. Next year, I thought, as I wiped away a morning tear.
The following year, I was actually excited about winter coming. But I did less preparation in the run up and as a result I didn’t commit to the January yoga plan. I felt quite guilty about that and was pretty hard on myself. However, the hygge way of thinking helped immensely. I was ok about getting up before the sunrise and felt a real boost as the sky woke up with me. I’d still not cracked it though. Work was quiet in January and February and the mojo, along with the daily yoga practice was lacking.
Ever the optimist, I rolled my sleeves up in Autumn last year and thought about what I could do to move things on and really embrace the winter. A couple of new super soft blankets for the living room started it. I also realised that my focus on trying to celebrate the positives of winter had rubbed off on my kids. They showed pure joy when we put on our pyjamas and snuggled under the blankets for Saturday night telly. I had unwittingly built a winter-positive tribe!
So I had a bit of back up with my two mini wingmen. Excellent! What else could I do? Have more evenings by candlelight was one. That was lovely.
Next? Crack the yoga… my wingmen are wonderful, but they’re not helpful on the yoga mat! However, they were at an age, by this point, where I could get up earlier than them to spend time on the mat without too much interference. But where was my tribe to give me accountability to ensure I committed to daily yoga throughout January? I put a call out to my friends on Facebook in December – who wanted to join me in Adriene’s “Home” 30 programme, starting 2nd January? The response was great and I ended up with not one but two WhatsApp groups who were willing to do it every day too in their own spaces and share the groans from too many planks, the “I don’t think I’m ever going to be able to step through to lunge like that” type statements and the “ooh today’s is a blankety one!” moments of joy. Not everyone found the yoga to be their cup of tea but most hung around for the chat.
As a result of all these little things and tiny tweaks in perspective, lighting and movement, Winter 2019/20 was lovely. I was super busy with work, but it was manageable because the darkness didn’t consume me… I just found a way to enjoy it. “I’ve cracked winter!” I proudly declared to myself.
With this particular winter approaching, I’m not feeling so sure of myself. Digital Christmas anyone? Oh god. It’s all quite shit, isn’t it? But I’m still an optimist and I resolutely refuse to ignore all the work I’ve done in the past 3 years. This winter shall also be embraced!
Here’s my plan... How I’m going to survive this winter:
1. Reach out to increase my tribe. I’ve set up a facebook group today, not just for Yoga this time, but for all things positive about winter. It’s called Welcome the Winter Warmly and I’d love you to join me.
2. Include all the stuff I’ve tried and found useful in the group
3. Remember my mini wingmen! Include them, appreciate their expertise and let them guide me
4. Use a gentle glow lamp in the mornings
5. Get on that yoga mat, but not just in January
6. Recognise the work I’ve put in over the last few years. I’m by no means an expert, but I’ve tried hard to shift my mindset and I might be of some help to others who are feeling daunted right now.
So there we have it. My journey with winter laid bare and my intentions for this year declared. I’ve said them out loud now so I’ll need to deliver. I do so hope you’ll join me in the group, it would be lovely to see you!