Self-care can sound like a pretty loaded term these days. With a hashtag dedicated to it on every social media platform and beautiful reels at every swipe, it often makes me wonder if I’m doing enough to take care of myself. The answer to that question is both yes and no. Over my last year and a quarter of therapy, I've learned that self-care doesn't have to be curated. Instead, it's all about the little moments you take for yourself. This sentiment is especially important for me during the winter months, and I’ll tell you why.
Once the sun starts to set before I even close my laptop, my mood and sleep schedule are inevitably disrupted. After a bit of research, I realized the reason is lack of sunlight and vitamin D. Case in point: Not only does the lack of sunlight throw our circadian rhythm off-kilter, but it also causes our brains to release less serotonin, aka the “feel-good” neurotransmitter. Knowing this, I decided to start my self-care in the morning and begin my days earlier to get as much natural light as possible in hopes that it would improve my mindset. And it did.
I now begin my morning by lighting my Keys Soulcare Sage and Oat Milk Candle, saying a prayer, and stating what I'm grateful for. (Gratitude, in my opinion, is self-care.) Next up is a cup of tea. Due to my generalized anxiety, coffee and caffeine are out for me, so I love making loose leaf tea from Aesthete Tea coupled with a dollop of lavender-infused honey from Zach and Zoë in my favorite Puik Designs mug. Each of these little products makes a big difference and adds so much to my day. I'm not sure if it's the ritual of it all, but I feel an instant sense of calm and care.
My self-care doesn't stop there. One thing I learned about myself at the onset of the pandemic was that getting outside and taking a walk helped boost my mood and creativity — as well as calm my anxiety. I don't get to walk every day during the winter months, but on the days that the weather permits, I bundle up and get outdoors, sometimes with a friend. The fresh air, chirping birds, and simple motion make me feel like I'm shaking the cobwebs of my brain and my bones.
I consider my nighttime self-care routine to be just as important as my daytime one. As my therapist puts it, having good sleep hygiene affects everything, including our mental health. Because I work from home, I find it difficult to close my laptop and stop working when the clock strikes 6 p.m., and the next thing I know, it's midnight, and I'm rolling into bed without taking care of my body from the inside out — including my skin-care routine.
These days, that bad habit is one I'm doing a pretty good job at breaking. By 10 p.m., my laptop is away, and I'm winding down with a warm shower. My favorite skin-care ritual during the winter months is moisturizing my feet with a heavy cream and then layering on my favorite cozy socks from Brother Vellies and Barefoot Dreams. They give me an instant pick-me-up, keep my feet warm, and signal that it's bedtime.
Each of our self-care rituals will look different, but I always stress that self-care doesn't have to be anything intricately planned. It can be as simple as dancing it out to your Spotify playlist (I do this daily too!), making a cup of tea, closing your laptop for a moment, lighting a candle, or just closing your eyes to take a few deep breaths. Whatever self-care means to you, I hope that you find solace and comfort in taking moments to yourself this winter.