The days are much longer now, the nights are shorter and spring is officially here – but with coronavirus living among us and uncertainty rife (who knew that a trip to the supermarket could be such a big deal!), in many ways it still feels like we’re in the midst of a never ending, deep mid-winter. In fact, personal wintering is a thing. That’s according to Katherine May, author of Wintering, which featured in Grazia magazine last month. The approach goes like this: Wintering is a period in life when you fall through the cracks for a while, spending a season out in the cold (it features in a Silvia Plath poem, for the literary among you) – we can all learn to winter consciously. Wintering happens for many different reasons: a job loss, a breakup (coronavirus!) and what all winters have in common is a sense of being cut off. When we winter, life is frozen for a while. It feels as though we can’t move forward.
However, as the article explains, wintering has a shape – a beginning, a middle and end, an arc like a good story. And the author of the book encourages us to see the positives in wintering: to slow down, to listen to our bodies, be kind to ourselves, take time to think. She continues: tell people you are wintering and need a little time out of normal life. Then, when you feel you have been healed, emerge slowly. Winters are a fundamental part of being human.
How to survive a personal winter:
• What do you need right now? Try to tune in to what you need at this moment, for example sleep, exercise, more alone time.
• Take great care of yourself. Eat food that gives you pleasure, take long baths or spend time with a favourite book. Keep an eye on your drinking. When you crave things that do you harm, spend a while noticing that feeling and ask why it’s there.
• Get outside: Being outside helps us to feel part of a world that’s bigger than we are (even if it’s just sniffing the air out of your window). Get fascinated by the living things around you – even if it’s just online, and make it your business to know when the sun rises and sets and what phase the moon is in.
• Find simple things to do: Make something, sing a song, bake, tend a plant, walk a dog. Let yourself achieve small, satisfying things that are a break from your working life or family responsibilities. Know that these are enough.
Futon Company says: The current epidemic is making it feel more like deep winter than spring right now. And with a large proportion of us working from home and spending time in isolation, it’s more important than ever that our home and the space we live in feels like a safe space and sanctuary. Surround yourself with things you love, keep your space light, bring the outside in (even if you have to fake it!) and make sure that your furniture has multiple functions – for example a dining table that doubles as a desk; a cushion to keep you comfy. Embrace this national winter-in-spring and before we know it the flowers will be in bloom, the sunshine will be out and we’ll all be back to normal.