Happy Monday everyone! It’s definitely feeling like winter around here now, right? Saturday’s first snow of the season has made if official for me. As if I am not enough of a homebody the rest of the year, this is precisely when the instinct to stay inside my cozy house kicks into high gear.
Views out my front and back windows on Saturday:
But I’m not going to complain about the cold, the snow or the fact that I can’t bike and it’s not as much fun to run when there is slush and ice. And for a change of pace I’m not going to talk about food. While we all know that food is a fascinating topic, life is also about many other things that make us feel happy and good. Like the little behaviors we practice at home for comfort and that contribute to our health and well-being. Particularly now and in the upcoming months when we’re most likely to feel like hibernating in our woolly socks and hoodies with this 4:30pm darkness.
Just for fun, I’m going to share my winter nighttime rituals. These are some of the things I do at home before sleep during these cold, dark months that help bring me comfort, coziness, joy, gratitude and peace. I’d love to hear yours too!
So here I go, starting with after the pets and we have eaten dinner, after the cleaning up of the kitchen (can’t bear to go to bed with dirty dishes in the sink, can you?), after lunches are prepared for the next day and after Bonnie the dog gets a quick walk. But even she has been preferring to stay in lately when it’s so dark and chilly out there.
Lights and Candles: These get lit as soon as it gets dark. They may even stay on all day when it’s depressingly overcast and dreary. Right now I am loving my tiny, festive, battery-powered red and green strings of lights on the fireplace mantle. Short days also mean candle season and I like to have a couple of them flickering in the living room. WoodWicks found at TJ Maxx are my favorite– they crackle! And they smell great!
My aunt Cathy gave me this back when we used to take ice skating classes together. The tree changes to different colors. She also gave me the ice skating girl in the pic above and a gorgeous sparkly ice skate tree ornament.
I’m not really into decorating and we no longer put up a tree, but I do like to get some of my favorite Christmas things out every December.
Jeopardy on Echo: I didn’t want Echo. She’s not that helpful for anything other than the weather report and Jeopardy. We used to watch Jeopardy on TV. Actually we used to record it on the DVR and then watch several at a time sans commercials. So much fun. But since we got Echo we’ve switched to playing the daily questions instead of heading down to the TV in the basement which is not that cozy anyway. Playing the questions together has become a bit of a nighttime ritual that I look forward to.
Weather Check: I’m also slightly obsessed with checking the forecast. Before bedtime, I see what the temp is going to be at 7am and get out the appropriate running clothes. It’s definitely not set in stone that I’ll actually go out running… but I do think this gets me one step closer to deciding to go if I’m debating. I actually determine my whole day based on the weather– really unpleasant weather means I’m probably going to be heading to hot yoga.
Into Bed 7:30-8:30ish: Don’t laugh! This is winter and it’s been cold and dark outside for 3 or 4 hours. I don’t want to go out anywhere at this point. So, I get into the coziest place in the house– bed! First thing I do is fill out my Happiness Journal:
Ohhh, the handwriting…bad habit of writing too fast and carelessly. Must work on slowing down and neatening.
Basically the idea is to write down one sentence per day but I have more to say than that. I need more lines. I’m into year 3 (it holds 5 years) and it’s so cool to see what happened on this day last year and the year before. Practically every night it’s “Chris! Guess what happened on this day last year?!” 🙂 It’s the little things that bring us the greatest joy in life, isn’t it?
Crossword Puzzles: I don’t do them every night but they are there for when I can’t sleep. Or when I simply really need to chill out my ridiculous brain. Trying to figure out the answers to the clues does wonders for getting you out of your head and out of your thoughts so you can relax and get to sleep. I do the ones from The Independent newspaper that comes every Thursday. It’s just the right speed for me where there is a challenge but it’s also not impossible.
Books: I have always loved to read. The last book I read was The Nightingale. It was so captivating at parts that I couldn’t put it down. Next up is Small Great Things that I started a few pages of but haven’t given a chance yet. I have a handy storage cabinet in my headboard (vital for prevention of a bored pup chewing up my library books). A favorite book I like to keep in there whose words of wisdom help me see the big picture a little clearer is: A New Earth by Eckhart Tolle and If I’ve had a rough day, reading what I’ve highlighted in this book resets my reality.
Podcasts: If I want to relax and sleep, there are two that I go-to: Meditation Oasis (the Relax into Sleep episode usually works!) and Tara Brach (probably my all-time favorite podcast– her stories will help you change how you see the world). If I’m in the mood for entertainment I’ve got several nutrition-related podcasts where I download the topics that look interesting. A few favorites include: IMperfectly Healthy, The Psychology of Eating, Rich Roll, The Fat Burning Man and The Functional Medicine Radio Show.
The Office: One of the funniest shows I’ve ever seen. There is no TV in my bedroom and for the longest time I was anti-technology before bed– however, the tablet has somehow slipped into my world. It started with watching a few movies in bed. Then we found The Office and started with the first episode and are now into season 6. I just googled it– there are 9 seasons and 201 episodes!
To Sleep: 9-10pm on a good night. 🙂 11pm, 12am, 1am, 2am, etc on insomnia nights. 🙁
Night Snack?: Ok, so I AM going to discuss food today after all. You know I could not resist. I remember years ago I used to almost always get hungry before bed– when I didn’t want to eat– and I dreaded this. I now know it was because of a couple of reasons: I wasn’t eating enough food during the day (it WILL catch up with you, trust me) and I wasn’t eating the right balance of foods. Now, I know the best foods for my body to eat during the day so that I don’t feel hungry at night. But, occasionally…it happens. And I don’t panic. If I do feel hungry I have a small, satisfying go-to snack that does the trick. In the old days when I got hungry before bed I never knew what to eat and typically ended up eating way too much and not feeling well. Learn what works for your body. Experiment. If you get hunger pains and can’t sleep– remind yourself that it is OK to eat something to feel better… but also that you actually need a lot less than you think you do to quell that feeling.
What are your nighttime rituals? After dinner, before bed… do you play an instrument, watch a favorite show, do a jigsaw puzzle, paint, go bowling, play computer games, sip wine, knit, go out dancing?
Healthy habits are the foundation for a healthy life. I believe that the things we do that make us feel alive, safe, blissful and centered can only be good for us. Establish these habits and they will become who you are. We’re in what most people consider the most stressful, hectic time of year– the holiday season. Our comforting evening (and morning) rituals can ground us and give us the stability and peace that we all crave.
The idea for this blog post was spurred by my beautiful, inspirational friend who can be found blogging at A Lovely Inconsequence… specifically her post called Cold Comfort Charms. And I will agree, I too indulge in setting my thermostat above where I normally would when I yearn to feel warm and safe.