Everyday Mindfulness

Let Go, Find Warmth: 11 Mindfulness Practices for the Winter Blues

Less daylight and colder temperatures can significantly affect our moods. These mindfulness resources can help us cultivate resilience and treat ourselves with compassion when we could use a bit more warmth and light.

As we journey on through the days of a relatively new year, the gleaming colors and exuberance of the holiday season fade behind us. Meanwhile, at least for those of us in the northern hemisphere, we look down the long path of short days and cold weather that will take us to springtime. A lack of sunlight, darker nights, and isolation or stress due to yet another wave of the pandemic may make this time of year feel long and bleak for many. Sometimes we call this “winter blues” and in more extreme cases, Seasonal Affective Disorder. 

It’s normal to feel a little down sometimes, especially during these darker months, but the journey is easier when we move through it with the knowledge that we are not alone and that there are supportive, self-compassionate steps we can take to let a little light in. So, here are some guided mindfulness practices to keep in your back pocket (or the bookmarks bar on your browser) to return to any time you’re feeling the winter blues.  

Check In: What’s Here Now?

The foundational principle of mindfulness is the practice of presence. To be aware of where we are and what we’re doing. When we’re not feeling so hot, the temptation is often to turn away, dive into distraction, and essentially hope whatever doesn’t feel good just goes away on its own without any intervention or particular attention on our part. But when we practice turning toward and being with what is present for us in this moment, we give ourselves the opportunity to understand what we need—and respond with wisdom. Here are two guided mindfulness practices to help you do just that.

Mindful Check-In Practice
A three-minute guided mindfulness practice: how to tune in to the present moment and acknowledge wandering thoughts.

A 10-Minute Full Body Scan Meditation
Explore this guided practice to calm your mind, notice sensations in the body, and bring awareness to the present moment.

Welcome What Comes Up

Sometimes we check in with ourselves and discover emotions, sensations, or thoughts that are difficult or even painful. While turning away may be our instinct, if it feels safe to do so, try letting those feelings in. We can learn a lot when we engage with what is present, even when it’s difficult. We may find that we’re even able to let go of what’s difficult more easily when we engage with it from a place of nonjudgmental awareness. 

A 12-Minute Meditation to Reconnect with Yourself
In this episode of 12 Minute Meditation, Cynda Rushton leads a guided meditation to welcome all of our emotions and feel at home in our body, mind, and heart.

A 12-Minute Meditation to Work with Difficult Emotions
Law Professor and author Rhonda Magee shares a practice to remind us that there is wisdom and compassion in pausing before we act.

A 12-Minute Meditation to Welcome Everything
Frank Ostaseski offers six steps to open up to the present moment—whatever it may bring.

Let Go, Find Calm

When we feel stressed, anxious, or sad, we can show ourselves a bit of tenderness by making intentional time for deep relaxation and calm. Let these guided meditations lead you to a sense of ease. 

A 12-Minute Meditation to Welcome Deep Rest
Encourage deep relaxation at any point during the day with this reminder to listen to your body and acknowledge when it’s time for rest.

3 Guided Practices to Find Calm and Equanimity
Resilience expert Linda Graham shares three ways to use awareness and deep breathing to ground ourselves throughout the day.

A 12-Minute Meditation to Meet Yourself Where You Are—Right Now
Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction instructor Cheryl Jones leads a practice to foster self-acceptance

Reset

With fewer daylight hours and colder temperatures, we’re less likely to get out of the house where we experience new things, connect with others, and get moving. So, try shaking things up a bit by moving your body, or reorienting your perspective to encompass a bit more curiosity and gratitude. 

A Gentle Movement Practice to Connect With Your Brave Heart
Boo Boafo from Urban Yoga Foundation shares a 20-minute practice to cultivate the tools to nurture, strengthen, and give courage to our fearless hearts.

A 2-Minute Practice to Calm Anxiety and Nurture Curiosity
Anxiety often contributes to keeping us stuck in habits we don’t want. This mindfulness practice helpss soothe racing thoughts by letting us tune in to embodied awareness.

A 12-Minute Meditation to Notice, Shift, Rewire
This guided gratitude practice can help us open up to joy and appreciation, even when things don’t go according to plan.

A Simple Meditation to Connect With Loving-Kindness, from Sharon Salzberg
This classic loving-kindness meditation can help you to awaken to how connected we all are. You don’t have to like everybody, or agree with everything they do—but you can open up to the possibility of caring for them, because our lives are inextricably linked.

Here are five guided meditations to help you feel grateful for all things, both big and small.
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