How To Hibernate In Winter


I have always been influenced by nature - quiet summer and spring mornings gives me such joy and energy. I eat well, rest well and go about my day with mindful clarity.

But, every year with the coming of winter, I notice a resistance that rises up against me. Instead, I feel uneasy, unmotivated and uninspired.

I find myself craving sleep; a deep slumber where I can rest my head and let time pass me by. And I also lust after food; rich and creamy indulgences that spur on afternoon naps. 

So in order for me to bring more energy and joy to my life during the colder months, I decided to take a new view on hibernating and over indulging in chocolate from a more mindful perspective. Here are some things that I have noticed so far.

I Need More Sleep

With the sun setting before 6pm and the night's getting colder and darker, we can become more susceptible to feeling tired. However, sleep is something that we can neglect to prioritise.

We delay rest because we feel that there is never enough hours in the day to accommodate work, life and everything else in between. But the truth is, it is during this time that our bodies need even more sleep than usual.

So over the last week, I decided to make time for sleep. I started tuning into what my body was telling me and I became more aware of when I needed to rest. And, I found that giving in to it was actually ok - everything else on my long list of to dos can wait whilst I rest. Accept that feeling tired is just a gentle reminder that we need to prioritise sleep. 

So I got back into my mindful night routine (read my post 9 Ways to Create a Mindful Night Ritual) which consists of a herbal tea, my hot water bottle and some light reading. And I make sure that my head hits the pillow by 10.30pm so that I get 8 hours each night. Over time, I will gradually be shifting this time even earlier so that I can wake up earlier too!

So far, I have found that I wake up early, well rested and ready to start my day. Here are my tips for amazing sleep!

Spend 30 minutes before bed preparing for sleep.

You can spend it journalling, reading, meditating or pottering around the house. I love using this time to really sit, reflect, dream and enjoy the moment.

Try a few yoga positions to bring on sleepiness.

Child's pose, supported shoulder stand and plow pose are some of my favourite positions because they can give us a beautiful calming stretch to relaxes your body and your mind. 

Aim to get to sleep 5 minutes earlier each night.

If you find that you currently are in the habit of getting to sleep late, this can help your body clock re-adjust to a new sleeping pattern.

Allow yourself to get more sleep if you need it.

Especially if you are feeling exhausted or feeling unwell, sleep is when your body can get to work regenerating cells, repairing tissues and removing toxins. Too little sleep and our bodies don't have enough time to complete the healing. This means saying yes to afternoon naps, cat naps and sleep ins!

I Need Warming, Nourishing Food

Leading up to Easter, I overindulged in chocolate. It got to the point where I was on the hunt for chocolate every afternoon to satisfy my craving for something rich, comforting and sickly sweet. 

After a while, I found that my new sugary habit had slowly seeped into other aspects of my life. I was more likely to opt for takeout, spend more on processed foods and my energy levels were no longer steady throughout the day. I found it difficult to seek clarity during my meditation; I was spiritually disconnected because my body was not properly nourished. 

In order to feel more vibrant, energised and mindfully present, I knew I needed to sever my dependency on living with a sugar high.

So last week, my housemate and I started a three week holistic detox. We have been feasting on warming, wholesome, organic fresh produce like vegetables, nuts, grains and beans and reducing things like sugar, caffeine, alcohol, and gluten.

It has brought me back into my kitchen, eager to try out new recipes, cooking up a messy storm, and eating home cooked meals. 

It's only been a few days and I am feeling blissfully refreshed and reinvigorated. My palate has also started to return, in which I am starting to find sugar too sweet. (Check back here for a post on my holistic detox experience soon!). Here are my tips for eating!

Experiment with cooking with the seasons.

When it is cold, our bodies love warming foods to balance our doshas, so ease off on the salads and start making more hearty soups (e.g. see my pumpkin soup recipe), curries, and roasts with beautiful seasonal produce. Have fun and experiment with new recipes and ingredients this autumn and winter. This autumn, I will be adding in one vegetable to my meals that I have never cooked with before.

Add warming spices to your cooking.

Warming, healthy spices like turmeric which also has anti-inflammatory properties or cinnamon which can aid detoxification will help enhance the flavours in your meals. Also add fresh ginger to your shopping basket to protect yourself against colds and flus.

Don't just replace pasta with gluten free pasta

Gluten can make us feel more tired and sluggish so it's worth considering going gluten free for a little while. Instead of replacing normal pasta with your standard gluten free pasta, look for other alternatives to bring a new level of wholesomeness to your cooking. Try using vegetables like zucchini, shaved into thin strips or use healthier grains like quinoa, millet or brown rice.

Drink warming herbal teas

Nowadays, I prefer to drink herbal teas as they don't contain any caffeine. I have developed a love for dandelion tea and rooibos tea as they are perfect for colder mornings. These tea blends are comforting, earthy and strong. Unlike other herbal teas, you can add in a dollop of almond milk if your prefer it smooth and creamy.  Try it with a teaspoon of honey too - it's simply delicious!

How do you bring joy, energy and vibrancy into your day during the autumn and winter? Do you go out in nature for walks to appreciate the changing of the seasons? Or do you curl up by the fire and read instead? Love to hear your thoughts! 

Jo ChunYan - Intuition Coach & Graphic Designer

I'm Jo ChunYan. I am an Intuition Coach and Graphic Designer, currently enjoying a deeply soul nourishing experience in my spirit home, Japan. This sanctuary is devoted to cultivating CONSCIOUSNESS, CONNECTION & INTUITION.