Your Guide to Winter Mindfulness

On the surface, mindfulness – focusing entirely on the present moment and acknowledging and accepting our feelings, thoughts, and sensations – may seem simple. However, spend just a few seconds simply looking out the window or watching the flame of a candle flicker and you’ll notice your mind naturally start to wander. While some thoughts may be pleasant memories, others could be the next thing on your to-do-list, a past failure, or even what you’ll have for dinner that night, all of which can cause stress. But as activities naturally slow down in winter, we can use this peaceful pace to learn how to harness the power of mindfulness. The benefits? A season of spending quality time with loved ones, reducing stress, suspending judgement, and unleashing our natural curiosity. 

Experience mindful conversations 
With humans exposed to more information and distractions than ever before, truly processing what a loved one is saying and participating meaningfully in a conversation can be difficult. Luckily for us, winter weather offers ample opportunity to learn how to communicate mindfully: the cold weather encourages us to spend more time indoors with those close to us, and the holidays can prompt us to pick up the phone and speak to someone we miss. Next time you’re engaged in a conversation, make a conscious effort to eliminate distractions like television and phones, and instead really listen to what the speaker is saying. Try not to immediately share your own thoughts or advice, and instead ask questions to show you’re listening, clarify information, and help them explore their feelings. These tools can help you "receive empathically," a type of listening where we truly hear what others are observing, feeling, needing, and requesting.

Enjoy a mindful drink 
A warm mug of mulled cider, a hot cup of cocoa: these are some of the small indulgences we crave most when winter comes around. Next time you make yourself your favorite winter brew, take the opportunity to exercise your mindful muscle and enhance your enjoyment. Rather than drink while working or watching television, focus completely on the sensations it offers; feel the warmth of the mug in your palms, inhale the aroma, observe the color of the liquid, and savor the taste on your tongue.

Indulge in skincare
Making skincare application a mindful practice is a great way to shift our perspective on something we may see as a task to finish as quickly as possible. In winter, this is especially important as our skin has unique demands we need to carefully listen and respond to. For example, the cold air outside and dry indoor heating can quickly dehydrate skin. Remedy this concern by removing dead skin cells with an exfoliator, like the Imperial Glow Facial Polish from Ranavat. Pay attention to the feeling of the ultra-fine apricot shell granules against your skin as you massage in gentle circles. 

Find wonder in the weather
Releasing our child-like curiosity is a beautiful benefit of living mindfully. When we view things we take for granted, or even see as negative, as an opportunity to experience an array of sensations, wonder can soon follow. While we can choose to mourn the end of fall and grow resentful towards the colder, darker days, we can also choose to notice and find joy in watching snowflakes fall or listening to raindrops splash.

Experience a winter craft activity  
Craft activities are a fantastic way to practice mindfulness as well. As we enjoy a winter craft activity like knitting, crocheting, scrapbooking, or journal decorating, we often become completely absorbed in our project and so are naturally mindful. For an even more mindful experience, try suspending judgment on your work and instead focus on enjoying the process.