Self-care: winter edition

Winter self-care is all about hygge

I've always downplayed self-care. You may have the career, finances, and family figured out. But what about the attention to other things that could help your physical, mental, and spiritual well-being?

What is shocking to the rest of the world is simply an afterthought in our hyper-driven, capitalist routines and performances.

We are ready to sacrifice the very foundation of well-being in order to have progress, achievement, money, and status.

Or at least I always have.

What would it look like if you paused and adopted another mentality in your lifestyle?

One thought is to approach self-care seasonally.

And with constraints. For example, the winter of 2021 will need to be geared towards practical self-care ideas since its a time when all of us are hibernating indoors due to the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Danish concept of Hygge, or a sense of coziness and contentment especially in the home, inspires many winter self-care ideas.

There is the actual self care item, but then there is the planning for the space to have that item.

Benefits are two fold:

  1. You have to practically allow for your self-care
  2. In the process, you get happier

As demonstrated by money researchers Elizabeth Dunn and Micheal Norton, we feel happiest when we are looking forward to something.  In fact, the act of planning something fun can lead to experiencing 30% more fun.

The following is an example of how winter self-care could look like if you were to have the planning aspect in place:

Another key aspect of a self-care for your life is that you don't have time for elaborate things. If it is easy and achievable, then you are more likely to do it, a concept well ingrained in James Clear's Atomic Habits.

The simplicity and achievability of ideas in the physical, environmental, psychological, personal, and social domains could look something like this:


  • Stretch your upper and lower body for 10 minutes while wearing a pair of woolen socks.
  • Spend 20 minutes preparing and drinking some herbal tea, while focusing on the warmth of the cup, the aroma of the tea, and the sensations you feel around it. If your mind starts to wander, observe your thoughts, and then gently bring it back to the sensations of the tea.
  • On the weekend, bake something or cook something different. Enjoy with the family.
  • Make a date with your spouse to have peppermint hot chocolate in the morning and figure out childcare or give the kids some screen-time.
  • Use a moisturizer daily for your skin and face. Preferably non-scented like CeraVe.
  • Drink a hot cup of tap water in the morning everyday.
  • Schedule in some naps by getting your childcare in order or asking your spouse to help. If you don't feel sleepy at the time of the nap (which can happen when you are overwired), just lay down and attempt meditation or mindfulness of the moment. When your thoughts stray, gently come back to the sensation of lying down.
  • You will have to venture out one day in this season. Get geared up, and make a plan to go outside and experience winter weather.
  • Dance workout for 30 minutes. Involve your kids if you can't get childcare.


  • Order one candle when you have the downtime (or along with your regular ordering of food or other items) and plan to light it on a particularly hectic weekday night.
  • Light a fire, either through the fireplace or a fire pit outside.
  • Go out with the kids and collect some natural items from your neighborhood (sticks, leaves) and make a simple decoration to keep in the house.
  • At some point in the day, go outside and take deep breaths of the winter air for 1-2 minutes. Everything can wait for at least 1 minute in even the most infant run households.
  • Bake something again. The house is going to smell amazing.


  • Invest in a notebook that is either analog or digital. Set aside at least 10 minutes where you are alone to write into the notebook any thoughts or feelings that come to mind. Focusing on thoughts central to finding ikigai would be the next step after writing down initial thoughts.
  • When you start to feel low, for whatever reason, stay in the feeling for some time. Let is take over as long as it needs to. Then look at your calendar and plan on acquisition.
  • Do nothing, including no screen time on a weekend day.
  • Think of a memory from childhood and sit with it. Then move on.


  • Set aside 30 minutes a week to read any non-work related book or listen to audiobook on your commute to or from work.
  • Listen to music that you like for 30 minutes while you are doing a chore.
  • Set aside a few minutes a day to learn something new. It could be 5 minutes a day for learning a new language through Duolingo.
  • Think about a simple tradition you'd want to weave into the preset stuff in the holidays.
  • Say no to something that you are not going to be up for but may be expected of you.


  • Play a board game with the family. Consider Monopoly if you want to give your kids a financial education.
  • Figure out childcare or asking your spouse to help you in order for you to have 4 hours blocked off to hang out with a friend, limited group of friends, or do a zoom chat with friends.
  • Give someone, anyone, physically or through social media a compliment or answer a question they are struggling with.
  • Call a friend to set up a day and time that you can go for a hot coffee stroll or do a coffee chat on zoom with having the childcare set up.
  • Call someone in your family and vent about something.

And let's not forget that you should always consider what chores that you can ask for help in or do more enjoyably. For example:

Fold the laundry when it is at its hottest and snuggle with the warm clothes. If your kid is old enough ask her or him to help you, stating that it would make your life so much easier if they pitched in. If they are too young, then have them do anything with the warm clothes and if a baby, take breaks to snuggle or play peek-a-boo.

Or even the category of items to rethink doing a little differently including:

Holiday cards, address list, writing, mailing. Ask for help in one of these parts. Or just don't do them at all this year.

Self-care is the number one priority. It is worth asking what can you take away from someone today to give to yourself, so that you can give more to that person tomorrow.

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