New Year reflections on winter wellbeing…

How do you feel as you start the new year?

So often we start a new year with intentions to be healthy , be more active, stop this or stop that.

A few years ago I stopped all this and decided I would simply reflect on the previous year and take time at the start of the new year to remember the last year. What was good, what was challenging, what could I have done better and what had I learn’t that I wanted to take into the new year. I love writing as I reflect and I always find this helpful – I enjoy starting the year with space to just sit , reflect and write.

I especially found it useful when I was struggling to get my head around the loss of my partner. I had so many questions – what now , how can I work, can I live in the house she died in , can I feel joy ever again. Questions , questions…

I use any book I like the look of. Sara gave me a lovely one – we both have our notebooks for WalkingWomen. Computers are great but sometimes you can’t beat writing things down!

This year I was caught by Dr Rangan Chatterjee’s Journal

If you need a little guidance or motivation, which I do sometimes, maybe give it a try. I’m going to.

His top tip for wellbeing is to write and so I am taking this advice this year. To write for wellbeing and so I am sharing some of my thoughts as we begin our third year at WalkingWomen.

WalkingWomen 2024 Holiday programme

We hope that our 2024 holiday programme will give plenty of opportunities to help well- being. To get out into nature , to breath in mountain air, to feel warmth on aching bones, to look up to blue skies, to swim in fresh water, to connect with other women and to feel revived. To Walk.Connect.Revive – it is what WalkingWomen stands for.

What helps us with winter well being

There are some key things we can do to particularly help us in winter. It might be writing , it might be travelling, it might simply be being cosy on the sofa with a good book or film.

I’m a great fan of films and I especially love a true story. I’m looking forward to cosy evenings with Maestro  a true love story of Leonard Bernstein and Felicia Montealegre played by Bradley Cooper and Carey Mulligan.

And  Priscilla to see the life of Priscilla Presley usually totally overshadowed by Elvis.

If you like the idea of cold swimming this might be of interest The Ice Swimmer – an Irish Journey

I am sure you all have lots of film and book ideas to share. Please do as we love to mention them in our monthly newsletter.

As well as the indoor cosiness some of us do like to swim outdoors all year round. I cannot recommend it highly enough and I definitely feel so much better for it.

Swiss Alps

I have swum in so many fantastic locations – many with others on our WalkingWomen holidays. Probably the most fun was joining a woman who was determined to swim in the Lake near Dalseter Hotel where we go in Norway. It was March and we had to break the ice. We laughed so much and it felt great.

Next will hopefully be in an icy alpine lake on our January trip to the Bernese Oberland in Switzerland. The exhilaration is uplifting. I already know there are other wild,outdoor swimmers on this trip. I can’t wait! Let us know if you are one – we are going to highlight best holidays for swimming this year.

A tip I was given after a brush with hypothermia( it is always critical to pay attention to the cold and know what you are doing) was to invest in a thermal swimsuit. I have never looked back! It really protects your core and I can happily swim with just a swimsuit if the water is 10 to 12 degrees. Once it goes below 7 degrees I feel more comfortable with wetsuit , hat,gloves, waterproof boots – the whole kit. It means I can have a proper swim as you are all protected. I’m not as hardy as though ice swimmers but maybe one day. I have my eye on a holiday we are thinking of in Finland where you can dive into an ice hole!

You can find out about  Zoggs Thermal swimsuits

WalkingWomen Winter Wellbeing TOP 10 TIPS

Finally we wanted to share some tips that we hope might also help you practically – simple things we can all do to help through the winter

1. Keep Hydrated: Even in colder weather, it’s essential to drink enough water to stay hydrated. Drinking plain warm water can be soothing. I was recommended only to drink warm water to help that horrible cough that has been going around.

2. Dress in Layers: Layering helps regulate body temperature, keeping you warm outdoors and allowing you to adjust to indoor heating. Merino wool is great and I always love a toasty pair of socks!

3. Protect Your Skin: Cold air can be harsh on the skin, so use moisturizer to prevent dryness, and don’t forget sunscreen, as UV rays are still present in winter. Sometimes it seems a bore to moisturise but spending time a some time during the day can slow you down and help you skin.

4. Boost Immunity: Maintain a healthy diet rich in vitamins and minerals to support your immune system during the flu season. Apparently dipping in cold water helps too – maybe start with cold showers occasionally and work up to swimming if it takes your fancy.

5. Stay Active: Regular exercise can boost your mood and immune system. Join our walks – we have day walks and holidays. We also have our WalkingWomen community where you might find someone to walk with in your local area.

6. Get Enough Sleep: Quality sleep is crucial for overall well-being. Turn off all devices at least an hour before bed! I was once told to just lie there if you can’t sleep – don’t turn on the TV or the radio. Just rest. It works for me!

7. Combat Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD): If you experience winter blues try and get outside as much as you can. We do recommend holidays to blue sky areas if this is you – a short break to Malaga or up into the mountains during these next few winter months.

8. Stay Warm at Home: we love hot water bottles and cosy blankets!

9. Stay Connected: Winter can sometimes lead to social isolation. Stay connected with friends,family and your walkingwomen community.

10. Practice Good Hygiene: Wash your hands frequently to prevent the spread of cold and flu viruses, and maintain good respiratory hygiene to protect yourself and others. We all did this in Covid times and it is good not to forget now with all the germs still around.

We hope this is helpful and we wish you a healthy and happy 2024

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