A Note from Natalie
Natalie is the resident writer, but not an expert. For expert advice, please book a consultation with Dr Quinn
There’s a smattering of chaos about proceedings these days, and it’s times like these, when the weather’s raging and there’s a general sense of anxiety, frustration and public anger, that it’s vital to find your own centre of calm.
We’re not talking disciplines for this January, we’re talking inspiration…
Sun of January by Leonid Afremov
Take a peek at our 7 Top Tips for weathering the storm:
- Create a sanctuary
You need a place away from the outside world to remember that whatever goes on outside, it doesn’t have to dictate your experience of life. It’s a very intense and strange time… but getting caught up in the maelstrom isn’t going to change anything. What’s essentially important is finding a grounding experience so that, come what may, you can remain healthy, strong, and able to connect to peace. Because we are all responsible for the daily experience we create for others, and the daily experience shouldn’t be emotional upset. A little healing goes a very long way.
How a sanctuary works
It is a place where you can rest fully and relax genuinely. So think about your environment: giving yourself cues that you’re deliberately disconnecting from the outer and turning your attention very gently inwards. So think scents, lighting, warmth, and some gentle stretching to firstly unknot the tangles of tension, and then gradually luxuriate in your body’s state of being well, warm, happy.
If it’s dark outside, think practically about how to bring the light in: fresh flowers and colours, and more literally through lighting, candles, smells…
- Aim for pleasure and enjoyment
January tends to come with a lot of schemes, regimes and disciplines, but you’ll get more out of life if you enjoy it. Take the time to make things exciting – especially when it comes to food. You need fuel for winter, it will influence your mood, your overall health – and taking the time to really enjoy cooking and experimenting and preparing convenient healthy meals to freeze and store, you’re creating a real treat for yourself.
Not sure how to create the spark?
Go somewhere different to gather your ingredients. Try new flavours. Winter is an ideal time to experiment with herbs & spices! Cook according to what looks most colourful. Simplify complexity by sticking to Jump into the recipe atlas and see what breakfast across the globe can look like.
Most importantly, start thinking of your kitchen as a place you actively want to spend time. Forget chores, think artistry! You don’t need to worry about perfection and skills here, you can learn as you go (and if it really is too overwhelming, start simple – there’s nothing wrong with a cup of tea and a dippy-egg if you’re engaging with happiness. Sit by the window and take your sweet time…)
- Brave it for nature…
I know it’s cold. I know it’s unfriendly. But I also know that you get warmer quicker by moving about rather than burrowing under blankets. You can do both, but there are rewards to seeking the outdoors when there’s a break in the rain. A walk under pale cloudy skies, out in parks, where dogs run mad and free with no idea there’s anything to worry about – life is bigger than the winter shut down makes you think. Everything can be alright. Plus, it always looks darker from inside looking out – when you’re out here, it’s not that dark at all. In fact there might be a glimpse of blue sky any minute…
If nothing else, coming in from the cold makes your home that much more beloved. Stick the kettle on, or run a hot bath. You’re home now. Breathe deep and let your troubles melt away…
- Keep in touch with the real you
Start a lovely ritual for yourself by putting pen to paper… and not making lists! Journaling is a special way of keeping in contact with how you’re feeling, and how you change and grow throughout the year. It can be a useful tool for development, but it’s also a very nurturing practice in itself. Even if you start off a little awkwardly not knowing what to write or how to write it, once you get into the flow, you’ll treasure the moments you can get to your journal the same way yogis cherish their time on the mat!
Top Tip: don’t focus our writing down what you’ve done, but rather on how you’re feeling – an emotional diary. Growth, expansion and a deeper connection to your innermost being awaits… what bliss!
(I’ll be writing a full blog post getting into the nitty-gritty of keeping a journal, so keep your eyes peeled for that if you’re interested in learning more about this practice).
- Change the scenery
There are bountiful merits to keeping things fresh, because our surroundings have a profound effect on mood and emotions. Don’t worry if you don’t have the time or money for a major overhaul – concentrate on de-cluttering and surrounding yourself with colours and images that lighten you and spark a little something inside.
In the words of the inspiring character, William Morris (Topsy to his inner circle):
“If you want a golden rule that will fit everything, this is it: Have nothing in your houses that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful.”
We like a good moan in Britain. But Swap the habit of complaining in favour of embracing the things you’re really grateful to have in your life, and it’s a genuinely transformative experience. It’s hard to explain until you’ve tried it, but in simple terms, bad feeling is turned into warmth; feeling hard-done-by or deprived melts into feeling pretty darn lucky; and a dim view on the outside world slowly lifts to a brighter shade. Just by focussing on the positive inside of the negative (because they are both present all the time), you set the tone for your daily experience, and that’s the best muscle to flex in your wellbeing journey!
- Think gently
When something upsetting occurs, we have a number of ways of responding. My personal experience has been that people’s response of late has taken a sharp turn towards quick anger.
Whether we feel vindicated in our response or not, everything we say and do has a consequence: our little pebble of dense and heavy feeling makes ripples.
Thinking gently is not about apathetically accepting everything in life without thought. It is about trying to conscientiously return to centre. Trying to boost your immune system so that you don’t catch the indignant bug: staying resistant to fear and panic.
Think gently for yourself and for others around you. Make your ripples waves of feeling good, rather than adding to the problem.
Treat your body well, treat your emotions respectfully, and extend those courtesies outwards. Don’t react to people who are so explosively reacting to something else, but be the break in the chain: the stopping gap. The solution to the problem.
Nurturing gentleness is more powerful than we can imagine, so don’t give up on it. Stay inspired, stay well, and search for the light, because it is always there, just behind these pesky clouds…
Share your thoughts on how to stay sane below – we’d love to get your top tips too!
Recipes to brighten your insides…
Natasha Corrett’s Watercress Green Smoothie
Here at Honestly Healthy Food
Natasha Corrett’s Warm Superfood Salad
Here at Honestly Healthy Food
Jamie Oliver’s Roasted Cauliflower & Coconut Soup