In a modern world full of noise, it is often difficult to remember that winter is a time for us to slow down, hibernate, turn in for perspective and focus. It’s a time to remember what we are made for and what we want from this one beautiful life.
For a lot of people, this is a new idea - the thought that we deserve rest and restoration, and that making time for it, and for ourselves, gives us a much greater capacity to show up in support of people we love, and to do our work with greater clarity, connection and purpose.
The holiday season is challenging for many people.
- For those who have experienced loss during the year, or in previous years at this time of year.
- For people who live alone or are alone during the holidays.
- For anyone who feels loneliness even if surrounded by people.
- For all of us, taxed by the last several years and feeling exhausted and burned out.
Historically, traditions by culture and by family helped alleviate some of this stress by redirecting energy to a seasonal ritual or practice which created a sense of comfort, taught a lesson (or reminded us of a system of values), or all of the above.
SLOANE MARLEY was created to be an active form of self-care, nurturing the skin, soothing the senses, calming the mind.
For the holidays, here are 5 pillars for the practice of self-care, the Scandinavian way:
To experience sensory warmth with weight, texture, and the feeling of being blanketed or protected. Warmth is a feeling experienced by all of the senses - with weight, scent, taste, sound, and sight. Imagine a room with cozy, heavy, textured blankets, a dark room lit by candles, the smell, sight and sound of a crackling fire, and the taste of comforting food and spicy hot drinks in earthenware mugs. Scandinavians do this by practicing hygge or mysa, which is a focus on bringing comfort during the darkest time of the year.
Try this: Set up an evening ritual where you spend 30-60 minutes unwinding in a quiet, dark, calm environment lit by candles and firelight (if possible). This time is best spent just resting, letting your mind wander, being curious, and letting the day settle.
As we race toward the longest day of the year on 21 December, we are literally losing light. In Scandinavia, it gets dark around 2p at this time of year. When it is dark outside, we are comforted by being inside in low or limited light. Turn on small downward facing study lamps or low light floor lamps and turn off overhead light. Make a habit of lighting a candle for at least 1 hour every day and steady yourself as you watch the flame. Scandinavians use a great deal of natural decor and natural light in their homes during the holiday season and the winter season. Candles are a staple source of light.
Try this: Consider the light in your life - what you are grateful for, what you seek more of, and who you need to keep you happy and balanced. Honor the cycles of circadian rhythms and go to bed early, getting more sleep. Remember that light is made possible by shadow and darkness.
We are so accustomed to comforting others, but for many of us, beyond the “self-soothing” practices of early childhood, we don’t make a habit of comforting ourselves. Let this be a time to anchor in your truth, and your needs. Quiet yourself, soothe yourself, focus, and calm your nervous system. Stretch sore muscles, make a habit of being comfortable. Scandinavians practice focused comfort in abundance and in many ways and make it a steady part of daily life, not a treat or a rare experience.
Try this: Give yourself the gift of something delicious every day in the next month. Devour a piece of chocolate, sip a delicious tea with local honey, savor a piece of buttery shortbread. Make it a small thing and be consistent with treating yourself.
The holidays are a time where we come together with others - those we work with, our families, or our friends. Regardless of history and stress, work to enjoy your time with people. Remember that these moments won’t come around again, and put aside the racing mind and endless lists, and bottomless volume of gifts to buy and exchange and just be with people. Let people spark your curiosity and let the experience of them expand what you know about yourself and the world around you. The idea of Fika, or the tradition of taking a break and sharing time and space with friends is a weekly ritual in Scandinavia, not just something kept for the holidays. Create greater joy in connection with the people around you.
Try this: Go into a family gathering or a group of friends with the mission to learn a new story or a fact about each of the people you are with. This is harder and more interesting if you know the people well. Through the lens of the story they decide to share, try to imagine what they may have experienced at that point in their life and how it brought them to the moment you are in with them.
Slow down. All the way down. No TVs, no iPads, no phones, no computers. Read books. Really listen to music. Slowly make simple food. Take walks at every point in the day (I recommend one after each meal). Bundle up and be outside, regardless of the weather. Let the future care for itself. Be available only to the moment you are in, and as the days to follow and the coming new year creep in, work to let them slip away. Just for this moment. Scandinavians take the holidays slowly, often not taking down holiday decorations until January 9th. Holiday meals are often buffet style and eaten in a grazing manner instead of a sit down meal. Holidays don’t have to be so formal and stressful.
Try this: Make a point of taking 3 walks on your day (or days) of rest. Observe what you see in nature as the day changes. Think about the patterns you see, and their purpose. What do you smell? What do you see? What do you hear? What do you feel on your face? What makes today different from any other day? Remain present and remember all of the things that have brought you to this moment.
Comfort is a practice. The more frequently you make time to practice self-care the more easily it comes into your daily life. New habits take about 2 months to settle and anchor, so if you begin these practices now they will be steady by the new year.
If you’d like to learn more about the art of Scandinavian Self-Care, join our list to hear about live events where our Founder, Courtney Feider, teaches these principles and helps you form a simple ritual to practice them using SLOANE MARLEY products for focus, anchoring, and restoration.