“Spring passes and one remembers one’s innocence.
Summer passes and one remembers one’s exuberance.
Autumn passes and one remembers one’s reverence.
Winter passes and one remembers one’s perseverance.” —Yoko Ono
In my research for this blog, an article sprung up at me titled ‘How to Beat the Winter Blues’ that sat with me the wrong way. It didn’t strike me as very sustainable. By definition, sustainable is something that can be sustained over a long period of time. If we were to fight winter every year, the little energy we have during the colder months would not sustain us for very long.
The changes in season are as natural as we are. Indigenous Australians have observed and developed an intricate and complex recognition and appreciate of the seasons, knowing when and what to hunt, which territories to stay away from and even what the mating habits of animals mean in relation to the changes in weather. They are so intimately tied to nature. They live by its changes, rather than resisting it. On that note, here are some ways in which you can live by the changes of winter to best sustain yourself and your home.
1. Go with the flow
My first tip for living more sustainably during winter is to change the relationship you have with nature. Embrace change. Embrace the natural flow of warm to cold, energetic to tired and back again. Our bodies are proven to have natural biorhythms that ebb and flow. Our DNA is literally driven by seasonal change, so it makes sense to go with it. A bear doesn’t resist hibernation, it prepares for it and surrenders to it.
As leaves fall, trees become bare and colder winds blow in, we see the world change around us. Nature falls silent and a process of death begins, that will later make way for the rebirth of spring. I find that falling silent with nature to reflect on the past summer is immensely transformative. It gives me perspective on my year and ultimately my life. Recognising all that I’ve achieved, how I’ve grown and where I might want the next year to take me.
I try to journal as often as I can. Some weeks I manage to journal every morning, other weeks not at all. I don't force it or make myself feel bad if I haven't got around to it. Ebb and flow. Ebb and flow...
3. Nourish your body
Driven by the change in temperature, our bodies begin to prepare to store more fat. So, what we eat, becomes crucial in how our bodies are able to sustain our energy. Choose ingredients that are in season. Stick to local produce that’s pesticide free. Make fatty stews and steaming hot soups. Save the salads for summer (I refuse to eat salad in winter- those cold, crunchy leaves *shudder*).
I bought this sauerkraut recently and have been loving it on toast or with crackers! Find delicious food that is going to nourish your body as well as your taste buds! (From Momma Kombucha- https://mommakombucha.com)
4. Use Ethical Power
Electricity bills go up in winter as we use more power to heat our homes. Do good by the planet and your conscious by signing up with an ethical and environmentally responsible power company. I’m personally with Power Shop, Australia’s first accredited carbon neutral power company. They source their power from renewable energy and invest in environmental restoration projects (Power Shop please sponsor me).
5. Conserve your energy
In our busy, demanding society, we are often expected to burn out, all year long. But with less energy, maintaining that level of intensity is challenge, and not a very efficient way of using your energy. I love bed and sleep any time of the year, so I'm probably biased but fighting our bodies natural urge to sleep longer hours and move less during the day in general does not sound very sustainable to me. If you can, try going to bed a little earlier and waking up a little later. Stay in more. Host dinner parties instead of nights out in the club.
I make sure that my bedroom is one of the cosiest places to be in the apartment. Keep it warm, soft and try to keep electronic devices out, so you get the best quality sleep you can.
6. Invest in thermals
I’m a sucker for second hand, but thermals are items of clothing I will buy brand new, and of excellent quality. They’re like good underwear, or bed sheets- you don’t want to skimp on something you will be using almost every day of your life (or in this case, every day in winter). Look for natural fibres such as wool or silk, as they have excellent thermal, breathable and sweat wicking properties (extra benefit is that they won’t release micro-plastics into the ocean when washed!).
7. Seek sunshine wherever you can
Finding a moment to sit in the sun for 15 minutes a day will make a world of difference. Doing this can increase your serotonin which is proven to improve mood and decrease stress levels. Both of which are damn important during winter when our cells are literally more stressed when they’re cold. Your stomach is actually the best place for your body absorb Vitamin D, so if you can ‘stomach’ (sorry not sorry) having your tummy exposed to the cold for a little while, give it a try!
Try to get to least 15 minutes of sunshine a day. Why not go for a short walk on your work break?
8. Heat packs!
A short yet sweet solution to staying warm are heat packs. They’re ecofriendly (if you buy from the right company) and can be compostable if made from all-natural materials eg. cotton and rice! If you want to get crafty, they’re very easy to make yourself too. All you need is some cotton fabric, rice or another filling and something to sew with! I found a well-researched blog post here on the best filling to use: https://alittlecrispy.com/2016/12/hot-pack-fillings and one here on how to make them: https://lifeasamom.com/diy-on-a-dime-microwavable-heat-packs/
9. Exercise for your body
While conserving energy is key, you can’t banish exercise all together I'm afraid. Colder weather limits our ability to exercise outside, and how much energy we have to exercise. Instead of swimming in the ocean, try a nice indoor heated pool? Instead of an intense cardio session, maybe Pilates or yoga? You know your body best, so figure out how to adjust your exercise needs to your body’s rhythms when energy is more of a scarce commodity.
10. Embrace the fashion
Pull out that winter wardrobe box I know you have stashed somewhere. Or get your op-shopping on! Winter is the perfect time to shop for those woolly knits and scarves. I love a cosy coat layered with a turtle neck, Levi jeans and some boss ass boots. It doesn’t get that cold in Aus but you don’t get to layer and enjoy cosy things very often, especially in a country that reaches 40c (we are whimps in winter but fucking champs in summer). When I'm stuck for ideas, I love watching YouTube videos showing how to layer and find the right pieces that work together.
My favourite sweater at the moment!
Ultimately, winter is not something that will ever go away. The seasons will continue to ebb and flow. I truly believe you will be able to sustain yourself more efficiently if you can learn to live more in harmony with these rhythms.
As always, I’d love to know what you think and whether you have any other methods! Leave me a comment down below.