Woman walking through forest for self reflection for personal growth

Winter through the senses and self-reflection for personal growth

by | Dec 14, 2022 | Free resources

Winter, a significant time of year in many cultures, is marked by festivals and rituals. The Winter solstice also known as the hibernal solstice the point when Earth’s poles reach its maximum tilt away from the sun, resulting in the waning of daylight hours can for some people start the onset of winter anxiety or an altered sense of mood due to the lack of sunlight exposure and the body’s release of neurotransmitters related to anxiety and depression. For some this can feel like a very lonely time of year. Read on for what Winter means to me and a simple four step approach to self-reflection for personal growth in 2023.

When is the Winter Solstice in 2022?

In 2022 the Winter Solstice shortest day will take place on Wednesday 21st December.

However, the Winter Solstice will be celebrated at Stonehenge on the morning of December 22nd, not the 21 December.

You might want to see the sunrise, which will be live streamed on the official English Heritage YouTube channel.

Joanne Cook Coach showcasing stonehenge winter solstice

What winter means to me.

I love the many beautiful things about each season through being more connected to nature and the environment.

Winter is wonderful and truly nourishing time just enjoyed differently to the other seasons.

On the mildest of days when winter takes hold it’s undoubtedly cold and seemingly bleak.

I still aim to spend as much time as I can outside, in natural light and on the most bracing of days wrapped up nice and cosy, feeling the sharp nip of frosty air on my face, hot breath puffing out from my cheeks across my lips and the crunchy glazed grass on the sole of my boots.

Whilst the daylight hours are shorter my cave girl self enjoys collecting logs and getting the wood burner roaring, watching the flames dance anticipating the warmth they will bring into the home.

For me, there are many distinct aspects I associate with Winter.

The stillness and quiet of bitterly cold snowy days that bring a crisp clean smell, a light aroma of pine trees and fallen cones.

The daytime air laced with the scent of smouldering wood fires, the night time’s darkest blue skies, hot chocolate with marshmallows, fruit cake and orange zest.

What does Winter mean to you?

Cosy log fire from Joanne Cook Coaching self reflection for personal growth

Self-reflection for personal growth in 2023

Winter is a much-needed time of deep reflection, rest and renewal, something that is lost in our modern and somewhat crazy world. We seem to get busier at a time where the environment around us is slowing down taking time to release, rest and reset. In winter our natural environment slows down and the energy surrounding us is more attuned to quiet murmurings. The natural sense of slowing and stillness allows us to reconnect and notice more of ourselves, creating a perfect time to take stock, examine what has past, what is present and imagine our future. There is no prescribed way of doing this exercise yet the following simple, natural four step approach may provide a useful framework.

How to reflect on your own personal story with self-reflection for personal growth

1.Consider the facts of your 2022 personal story.

What and when things happened? – What was predictable? – What was surprising? – What was most memorable, different or interesting? Approaching this in an objective & sequential way will be most helpful.

2. Explore what feelings accompanied those moments

Both the highs and lows. – What was the feeling(s) most felt, present or dominant throughout the year?

3. Reflect on your findings

– Are you noticing any missed opportunities? – What would you like to have had more or less of or maybe done differently? – What have you learnt most about yourself? – What do you want to let go of? – What’s desired to remain?

4. Consider the future.

– What has already changed or shifted? – What choices are available? – How do you imagine using all you have experienced and learned? – What intentions are emerging for you as you start to transition to the next chapter?

Could you benefit from a Soul Stroll?

Coaching outdoors in Maidenhead, Berkshire

‘Soul Stroll’ is an exploration through the five senses, interacting with the environment, broadening perspectives, creating a deeply personal immersive coaching experience.

There are many restorative health benefits of spending time immersed in nature including:

Stimulates the senses
Supports healthy cognitive functioning
Brightens mood so you feel happier
Reduces stress, as long as you feel safe
Head, heart, and gut harmonise
Strengthens Immune system

A winter poem

This sacred time is beautifully captured in the writings from talented Eco therapist, author, and writer Brigit Anna McNeill.

“The winter solstice time is no longer celebrated as it once was, with the understanding that this is a period of descent and rest, of going within our homes, within ourselves and taking in all that we have been through, all that has passed in this full year which is coming to a close… like nature and the animal kingdom around us, this time of hibernation is so necessary for our tired limbs, our burdened minds.

Our modern culture teaches avoidance at a max at this time; alcohol, lights, shopping, overworking, over spending, comfort food and consumerism.

…and yet the natural tug to go inwards as nearly all creatures are doing is strong and the weather so bitter that people are left feeling that winter is hard, because for those of us without burning fires and big festive families, it can be lonely and isolating. Whereas in actual fact winter is kind, she points us in her quiet soft way towards our inner self, towards this annual time of peace and reflection, embracing the darkness and forgiving, accepting and loving, embracing goodbye the past year.

Winter takes away the distractions, the buzz, and presents us with the perfect time to rest and withdraw into a womb like love, bringing fire & light to our hearth.

…and then, just around the corner the new year will begin again, and like a seed planted deep in the earth, we will all rise with renewed energy once again to dance in the sunlight.”

–Brigit Anna McNeill

If like me, you felt inspired by this, you can explore more on Brigit’s website.

Are you ready for some deep reflection?

Bring light and fire to your heart this winter in readiness for the new year. Book a free, no obligation discovery call with me.