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Welcoming Winter Wellness

Plan ahead for the coming cold months by keeping winter fun, lively, and full of healthy resolutions.

| November 2018

  • “Forest Therapy” by Sarah Ivens is an eloquent guide to being mindful of nature and seasonal changes, all to promote health and happiness.
    Cover courtesy of Da Capo Press
  • Winter rest is healing, but it is also important to use the blank slate winter provides to improve, grow, and plan.
    Photo by Getty/petrunjela

Baby, it’s cold outside — so how do you bring nature inside?

Keep up your sylvan connections and nature-loving ways even when you’re inside this winter, with these simple tricks:

  • Nature-themed coloring books are a relaxing way to stay connected to flora and fauna while staying warm and chilling-out indoors. Or, if you’re feeling creative and want to freestyle, pull out your favorite photos of treasured nature spots and try your hand at painting or sketching them. Any kind of artistic expression like this soothes the mind.
  • Your windows can be your canvas When the weather is just too freezing to get out, or the slush is making you immobile, prop up a place in the window and look for something you love. Cloud-watching allows you to drift off into a dream, and watching a blizzard come in and settle over your street is nothing short of enchanting.
  • Bring the outside in via your postman. No, I’m not suggesting anything untoward! I mean the festive season is a great time for mail — fewer bills, more cards from loved ones and little-seen friends — so spend the time indoors really relishing this charming communication with the outdoor world, and pay it forward. Forget e-cards or emails; choose cards that lift your spirits — reindeers, log fires and snowflakes, Mother Nature is the perfect muse — and send them sealed with a loving kiss and a heartfelt message.
  • Go to a Christmas tree farm and drag a fir tree home. Plastic just isn’t the same. Then spend time decorating it with collected ornaments and trinkets from bygone years. You can also add items from the natural world: paint and glitter pinecones and acorns. Use mistletoe and ivy to make wreathes and mantelpiece decorations. Fruit also makes for pretty decorations — a kumquat and red-ribbon wreath anyone? A sprig of holly in a glass vase is a simple yet stunning addition to a coffee table.
  • Build the perfect log fire, if you can. Go out into the woods to forage for suitable sticks and small logs.
  • Create a mini nature scene in a glass bowl, with fake snow, bird ornaments and real pine cones and leaves. For a splash of color, add the deep redness of pomegranates or that stocking favorite: a tangerine. Or fill glass bowls with cranberries and balance lit tea lights on top of them for a ruby glow.
  • A collection of pint-sized pine trees make a foresty feel-good display on a dining-room table. Spray with red and gold glitter or snow-in-a-can for a whimsical look, or leave them bare in their natural state. The scent is wonderful and they look Lilliputian-lovely.

Can hibernation heal?

In this socially busy season of non- stop partying, you may want to spend some time on your own, and make like a forest creature and hibernate for a while. If you’re going to hide away, make it worth it: treat yourself to thermal pajamas and toasty socks, ask for new books as holiday presents, take a break from shaving your legs, bake shortbread, drink hot cocoa and catch up on sleep. Make a corner of your home a refuge, a den, a hideout perfect for hibernating with blankets and cinnamon- scented candles. Because sometimes there are brief moments when we do need to squirrel away from society and do a dormouse.

When you’re stuck indoors, you have more time for the deep-and-meaningfuls with loved ones. It's okay if, for a while, in winter you venture outdoors only briefly, to head to a friend’s house for a chat or a board-game marathon, or if the dark evenings give you time to prioritize longer phone calls, Skype sessions or FaceTime catch-ups, because there is a therapeutic benefit to staying in touch this way, too. As the world falls into a sleepy state, you can unplug too. This will help you reboot your circuits for the new year ahead. Unwind, disconnect, stop worrying about work emails. Reconnect with yourself and the people you love rather than worrying about staying connected to cyberspace.

Hibernating on particularly icy days also gives you the chance to complete the niggling projects of the year, the things you’ve wanted to finish for months but have placed on the back burner. Finishing them before a new, fresh year begins will give you a deeply rewarding feeling of satisfaction and achievement. You can read the pile of books that has built up on your bedside table, save all your photos properly or update your address book, which is useful for holiday-card sending.

Don’t hide away for too long, though. An absence of natural light and the constant presence of electric lighting can throw off your internal rhythms. And, as you know by now, being out on the green scene is like having a therapist who improves every aspect of your life, and throws in plenty of vitamin D and fresh air for good luck. There’s also the social impact. Hiding away can become addictive. Saying no to friends, family and fun gets too easy after a while. But you are not a furry forest creature — you have enough food to survive the winter. So be a Santa to your soul and take the time you need to recoup from the year, then answer the phone, accept the invitation, pull on your waterproof boots and get out into the beautiful, sparkling, chilly world with your loved ones and toast it! It will be the greatest gift you could ever give yourself.

Winter Flowers, greenery and berries

 These blooms, leaves and berries are abundant at this time of year and symbolic of the season, so treat your home — and yourself — to a posy if you can this winter: 

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