In winter, when nature is dormant, you might find yourself naturally drawn to sit by the fireplace and quietly stare at the flames. Go ahead, says Jane P. Ehrman, M.Ed., Behavioral Health Specialist at the Cleveland Clinic Center for Lifestyle Medicine. Use the stillness of the season to allow yourself some rest and reflection. Here are a few ideas for enjoying winter to the fullest:
- Put down the remote and the smartphone, and curl up by the fire with a good book. Research shows that reading, whether a suspense-filled thriller, a biography, or self-help book, stimulates the imagination, improves mood, expands vocabulary, increases focus and concentration, reduces stress and slows memory loss.
- Sit and thoughtfully consider what is going well in your life. Let yourself soak in the positive feelings associated with your blessings. Gratitude elevates mood and energizes us.
- Begin a meditation practice. Take just five to ten minutes and sit quietly. For your meditation focus, try one of these:
- Gaze out a window and observe the positive qualities of nature, whatever the weather.
- Sit by the fire (or a lighted candle) and experience the glow and dance of the flames, the coziness of the heat, etc.
- Gently close your eyes and be present to your breath, heartbeat, and body resting in a quiet place.
Whatever you choose, you are helping your body and mind take a break from all the analysis, judgment, worry, and planning that tends to distract us from the present moment, says Ehrman. While it may feel as though you are doing nothing, the truth is you are releasing stress and tension from your body. Enjoy the feelings of calm and peace.