What is Wintering?
As the evenings roll in, our days become darker and we begin to want to nest in our homes and make things cosy and comfortable. There’s something about the winter that can have either a positive or negative effect on us. We either feel the loving warmth of our homes and enjoy being out in the cold to be met by this cosiness that makes us feel supported, or it can take a toll on us. We don’t want to wake up to darkness or it feels difficult to maintain our positive and productive usual sleeves. This conflict we experience can be for a variety of reasons, but looking for nurture and reassurance to feel relief from this, as we all know, comes from ourselves.
There are many things we can actively do to try and enhance our well-being, from seeking professional support to the daily care of our mental well-being. At the beginning of 2020, before we knew the UK would be in and out of various lockdowns, Katherine May released her book Wintering: The Power of Rest and Retreat in Difficult Times. This raw memoir of a specifically dark time in May’s life expresses her feelings along with her process of healing.
‘She describes “wintering” as “a fallow period in life when you’re cut off from the world, feeling rejected, sidelined, blocked from progress or cast into the role of an outsider.”
The New York Times
May’s description of Wintering explains how this time in which we reach places we don’t want to are involuntary, lonely and deeply painful. Underpinned by the movements of the season, the book explores the motions it took May to go through to flourish after feeling frozen. We get to understand her journey through a winter theme, from looking at the way animals instinctively prepare for the cold to actively seeking the restorative properties from elemental forces in Iceland.
What May offers us as readers and those seeking an understanding of being in unwanted places, is a type of antidote. Reading how she extensively explores these ideas, receives inspiration from others and seeks an outcome, brings a level of admiration for her openness to help others feel more comfortable to seek understanding of our own feelings.
“Wintering” does us the great service of reminding us that we are not alone in feeling undone.’
The New York Times
When considering Wintering in May’s terms, we’re looking for ways of relaxing, regrouping, hibernating and healing. Considering the specific emphasis on the season, we’re focusing on these elements that involve natures progression to this season and onto the following spring to bring us through our more turbulent times.
"I greeted it and let it in...Nature shows that survival is a practice."
The Active Acceptance Of Sadness
Returning to our natural instincts, enjoying nature and looking for understanding from natural movements becomes a basic and essential place to start when trying to have a better view for positive outcomes. There are so many things that we now have in our lives that make us busy, working overtime and our minds are exhausted.
So what quintessential elements can we take from a winter movement?
Animals that hibernate
As it gets colder, darker and wetter, mammals hibernate. They spend their summer and Autumn storing their food and nesting so when winter comes around they have a reliable source and can spend more time being cosy and comfortable. We should be lowering our expectations of what we can achieve when we aren’t at 100%. We should spend more time considering what we need and enjoy our home environments.
We have access to our favourite foods all year round which isn’t natural. We crave warmer and heavier meals because of the season and we should rely on those healthy root vegetables that are available to us in the UK. Our nutrition changes with the seasons and we should be looking to remain nourished for our physical and mental health. There is no better feeling than coming through the door on a cold day to a warm meal.
Unlike animals, we don’t grow an extra thick coat for the colder months. We can however look to ensure that we remain warm and cosy through the season. Making conscious efforts to dress in ways that make us feel confident too will bring us feelings of enjoyment through this season. We can also make our home spaces feel even more homely with blankets, knits, quilts and candles!
Colour and scent changes
The autumn shows us browns, crimsons, rubies, caramels, rusts and maroons. We lose the bright blues and greens for the golden light and the cold. These colour changes need to be embraced. We also experience different olfactory experiences. Rather than new flowers, freshly cut grass and sweet fruits there’s the cold dry air through to dewy mornings and some deep hot chocolate scents. We love the Lavender & Flaxseed Eye Pillow for the release of its comforting scent and its exuding warmth for this time of year.
May’s concept of wintering is about weathering a period of time where things never felt so low. From her explanation and detailing her experience, we can see how the elements of winter and wintering a low period of life are intertwined. From this, we can find an understanding of how we can prepare or look to natural elements and movements to help us regain our health through natural healing processes.
With forethought, we can make winter an enjoyable season. We can consider these natural elements and make the most of them. We can provide ourselves with a space of love and comfort to weather us through this storm, whether that be the season or a personal battle through a period of time. We can consider how we can support ourselves, bring forward new ideas to help us maintain a happier space and look forward to a more positive future.
Personally, fall and winter are my favorite seasons. I can hardly stand the heat and I “burn” in the sun!!
I particularly appreciate this moment when, I come home, warm, I love the weight of my duvet that I put on the bed when it gets cold. conversely, I hate not being able to snuggle up in the summer because of the heat.
I love simmering stews for hours, making soups. And I love to walk with my dog in the park when it is not yet light.
I have a holy horror of the summer season, too hot, too much sweating ….