It's not officially winter, yet the temperatures up here in Amherst suggest otherwise. It's cold. And as a life-long stay-home-in-cozy-clothes-as-much-as-possible type, I've been surprised to notice an increasing sensitivity to being cooped up inside.
This feeling is related to an epiphany that struck me this year: as one of Earth's living land-based creatures, we need fresh air and sunlight and to feel the ground beneath our feet every day. The basic conditions for wellness come from contact with nature.
While a simple realization, it has spurred me to make some tweaks in my day that have had outsized impacts on my mood, energy, and overall well-being. Some of you may do these things through the course of a regular day. For me, and I imagine for many others, especially city dwellers, and especially during the winter, it requires an intentional effort.
Get fresh air throughout the day. A walk, hike, run, or bike ride is great, and yet a few deep, conscious breaths on your doorstep or through an open window does wonders in a pinch. Remember smoke breaks? Try a three minute breath break and feel your animal body revive. Also, get some sun on your skin; remember, even when not visible, it's still coming through.
Tune in to the natural world throughout the day. If you're stuck indoors, try paying attention to daily changes in any flora and fauna you can see. Notice bird songs (even pigeons!), wind in trees, rain on grass, the changing states of flowers or house plants, anything that transports you into nature-time for a few moments every day. Even better is to be immersed in nature, of course: barefoot in dirt, grass, sand, or rocks when possible, communing with trees, even in an urban setting, or stomping through snow as the case may be. If that's not available to you right now, make it a priority to at least contemplate nature and shift your state of mind for a few moments.
For those of us currently entering the winter, there are a few things we can do to compensate for being indoors more than usual.
When we're indoors--at a desk, in a car, on the couch--we can end up moving very little. Exercise is always great, of course, and it's also important just to move your body frequently and intentionally throughout the day. Stretch, twist, bend, jump, bounce, dance, fidget, stand, shake, stomp, roll.
Nature is calming and transporting. When indoors, make sure to take time to space out, zone out, daydream, or cat nap. Put down your guard and let your body deeply relax.
Remember to drink lots of water. Indoor heating and winter weather are dehydrating!
Of course there are many more self-care activities that are very important (nutrition, sleep, energy healing, human connection, health care, etc.). These are just small daily reminders that our bodies are Earthly creatures, and if we're feeling irritable, anxious, or low, finding a way to reconnect with nature can be deeply revitalizing. We feel best when in some sort of connection and harmony with the Earth itself.