When winter comes, it is not unusual to find yourself wanting to sleep more, eat more and hunker down inside by the fire. Wintertime is a period when we take shelter from the frosty conditions outdoors. Winter is the season for hibernation; a time in which we honor our bodies and acknowledge our connection to nature by taking a cue from the shorter days, and reducing our activities to conserve our energy.
“During summer, a higher level of productivity is required for home and work. When days are long, our energy levels and metabolism are amped up, but in winter, we produce hormones that make us sleepy, giving us time to restore body, mind and soul.” ~ Health & Wellness Coach, Melissa Tabb
Nevertheless, humans have a tendency to work against this natural cycle. As we force ourselves to operate at summer levels all year round, it is not surprising that many people struggle with depression this time of year. Approximately half a million of Americans suffer from the wintertime blues, so it’s likely that you know someone who struggles with this season, or that you also might be a sufferer.
I remember nearly a decade ago, when I was working in a high level management position, I barreled along at high speed, year round! I was over-scheduled, over-worked and juggling more than my share of responsibilities. Back then, I didn’t think about myself. I was solely focused on my staff, my clients, my family and my duties. I couldn’t even think of making myself a priority. I didn’t realize then, that making a little time to relax and nurture myself would go a long way.
As a result of not practicing self-care, I became completely disconnected from my body and soul. I was a floating head. Going from my home, to my car, to an indoor job and back home again, I grew out of sync with nature and the cycles of the seasons. It wasn’t until I suffered complete burnout that I realized it was time for some serious self-imposed hibernation! I left my job, hunkered down under the covers and didn’t come out for about 4 months!
Since then, not only have I learned how to use the cycles of the seasons and the natural rhythm of winter as a time of seasonal self-care, I have made it my life-work to help coach other women and men to learn to do the same.
Now, when winter comes, I find myself wanting to withdraw to my deepest inner spaces. I don’t seek out connection as much as usual, and I often avoid encouragement from others that I should get out there and engage in the world. When winter comes, I retreat into myself. The frigid season gives me the freedom to slow down and not feel guilty about it.
Winter is my resting time; but I am more than resting. I am creating a new universe within myself. Winter is my time for examining and breaking old patterns, letting go of what should not be revived, deciding what should be saved and what I will bring into the next season of my life.
As a Retreat and Life Coach, I know the value of retreat during all the seasons of life. Whether it is a personal retreat, a virtual retreat or a gathering with other like-minded people, the decision to care for ourselves in a more deliberate, attentive, soul-nourishing way enhances our well-being and makes a positive difference in the world. When we honor, value and care for ourselves, we naturally begin to honor, value and care more for our families, our friends, our co-workers, and our world.
Embrace your need for hibernation this winter by giving in to your natural inclination to slow down, sleep more, and demand less from yourself! Taking care of yourself, body, mind and soul, you are likely to feel healthier and happier, and ready to weather the winter!