Winter Wellbeing

Four Scents Team

Our surroundings teach us that easing into the new year is the kinder alternative.

 

What could this look like?

 

Another new year is upon us. Having just crossed the threshold into January, “new year, new you!” is the message we instantly hear bandied about.

When you hear this, how do you feel?
Does it spark resolve or resentment?
Having barely emerged from the festive fog, this can personally feel like an unpleasant jolt. We stumbled upon this quote which felt more in tune with the season:
“Every year you make a resolution to change yourself. This year, make a resolution to be yourself” – Unknown
We took our cue from nature at Four Scents, looking at winter as the season of Rest. Our surroundings teach us that (depending how you’re wired) easing into the new year is the kinder alternative.
What could this look like?
Looking at Photos

 

Looking Back, Moving Forward

 

With a new start, being yourself could include looking back in order to move forward. There’s wisdom in not staying stuck in the past, however there are benefits in taking stock. One of the most effective ways to do this is by looking at past photos. Why not make an occasion of it by creating a cosy atmosphere in which to view your pictures? The smoky, spicy aromas in our Winter Rest Reed Diffusers, Room Mists and Candles lend themselves well to relaxation and focus.

The therapeutic benefits of viewing past photos are documented through research by CEWE – the feelings of positivity, happiness and relaxation outweigh those evoked through meditation! Looking back at photos helps us to return to the moment we see in the image, and this is powerful. It helps to counter our natural negativity bias (ease of recalling bad memories) by guiding our memories towards good experiences, as photos are generally record joyful and positive times. This is known as an “emotional bubble”, where the image fuses with wider memories of the occasion that we may not have captured. And who doesn’t enjoy revisiting a silly photo? Laughter is a mental health boost in and of itself, releasing endorphins, the body’s natural stress reliever. Photos strengthen the memory and our relationships; they are a reminder of what and who we love. This serves as a timely reinforcement of what is important to us.

Gratitude Notes

 

Gratitude

 

This leads on to the concept of gratitude. This is not a call to deny what’s wrong. Rather, instead of pushing towards change, gratitude places you in a more reflective space, with what’s already there. There has been much shared on this topic, however a practical idea that appealed to us is the Gratitude Jar.  We came across a post by neuroscientist Dr. Caroline Leaf, who suggested starting January with an empty jar. Each week, the idea is to add a note with a good thing that’s happened. By the time you reach New Year’s Eve, you can empty the jar and read about the great year had and the amazing memories made. This seemed an attainable addition to the week, giving an opportunity to focus on what you have, creating a visual audit of the things you may take for granted or otherwise miss. The rewards are numerous. Being mindful about what’s good is energising and helps improve sleep (especially if written in the evening). Focusing attention on those close to us can help to lower blood pressure and strengthens relationships. As well as increased attentiveness and joy, gratitude has been known to help ease uncomfortable physical symptoms.

Comparison

 

Overcoming Comparison

 

Being yourself can be hard in an age where comparison is rife. It’s all too easy when others’ carefully curated highlight reels are accessed via the touch of a fingertip. Theodore Roosevelt famously stated that “Comparison is the thief of joy”, showing this isn’t just a social media issue, it’s a human one! How best to tackle this?

The first key is awareness. Stop when you realise it’s happening and ask questions. Do you truly want what they have? How are you addressing your needs? Identifying reasons and motives helps to shift into a healthier perspective. We’re drawn to and notice the best parts of others’ lives. It’s helpful to remember that it’s not the full picture – we may not see other aspects that make up someone’s life. After all, who shares their chaos? Note how many social media platforms you’re on and whittle this down to one or two. Distraction is a good technique when you feel comparison getting the better of you. This could be moving away to an ordinary and grounding task to bring you back into the present, and importantly, your own life. It’s also helpful to be realistic about your expectations. Making plans and setting yourself incentives moves you to a more positive mindset.

Self Affirmation

 

Self-Affirmations

 

Speaking of mindsets, how is your self-talk? Do you treat yourself like you would a friend, or do you use words you wouldn’t dare say to anyone else?

Self-affirmations are gaining ground, not because it’s another form of softness, but rather a fiercely unconditional source of worth and compassion. They are statements that are repeated to help challenge those negative thoughts or statements about yourself. It can feel like an alien concept at first, so the best place to start is acknowledging your abilities. It could be in the form of a list with two headings:

I am… (a list of qualities and skills)

I can… (a list of actions and activities)

This is a crucial part of rewiring your mind; replacing toxic default networks with new healthier pathways that become stronger each time the affirmation is repeated. In turn, this works towards decreasing stress and symptoms of anxiety. It can improve academic performance and problem-solving abilities. The other benefit is building coping mechanisms; instead of looking for ways to numb a stressful situation, you have the self-control and ability to reassure yourself and have greater resilience. This isn’t a call to stop growing, but to grow life-giving thoughts.

 

Word of the Year

 

 

Word of the Year 

 

On the subject of words, an alternative concept to New Year’s Resolutions is becoming more eminent – Word of The Year. It can involve completing a quiz based on selecting various statements that resonate with you. They are then summed up into one word, which is something that is much simpler (and more authentic) that you look to incorporate into the months ahead. Or you can simply pick a single word (many websites have extensive lists!) that inspires you. Personally, I found that I hadn’t despondently ditched it by February. Instead, it had naturally etched into my consciousness and by extension, I achieved more than if I’d set a list of resolutions in the first place. It provides an anchor for the year ahead, and a consistent focus when making decisions. Your word can apply to anything and captures the essence of what you want to accomplish. It’s akin to having a mantra, so this by no means is a new idea. The simpler the reminder, the better we are at returning to what we value. Choosing words to represent every season at Four Scents was a careful process. Each word had to capture the feeling each season evoked. Therefore, the botanicals were selected with utmost care to reflect the words just as much!

 

Seeking Support

 

Seeking Support

 

Easing yourself into the new year authentically can involve openly talking about feelings and seeking support. We recognise that winter can take its toll on the emotions, so in order to look after ourselves well, it pays to check in often.

It’s OK not to feel OK. Many will have experienced stigma around discussing feelings, but thankfully there’s been a great movement towards taking care of our minds as much as our bodies. One affects the other after all. It’s brave to ask for help, and talking to someone who listens and understands us is greatly beneficial. Examples of those are: someone close to you that you feel comfortable with; a helpline/befriending service; a peer support service or a professional, such as a GP or therapist. No longer struggling alone, sharing with someone safe can build better relationships and improve your quality of life. Other positive effects are that it can help with work performance – it allows you to learn how to manage challenges better and increase motivation. As alluded to earlier, the mind and the body impact one another, so seeking help can help reduce risk for other medical issues. Complementary to this, aromatherapy can support the emotions. Essential oils are absorbed into our olfactory system, a part of our brain that is associated with memory and feelings. The oils in our Winter Rest Blend are especially grounding and soothing to the emotions (see our Winter Aromatherapy post for more details).

 

In this season of Rest, recovery and recalibration, how are you choosing to ease yourself into this year?

Wishing you much happiness and health for the new year, we hope you will find gentle inspiration and nurturing ways to take yourself over the months ahead…

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