Winter is nature’s invitation to slow down. It’s a time for stillness and restoration – the season of reflection and inward-focused energy. Join us in honoring and celebrating the hibernal season!
Winter is coming…
For those of us in the northern hemisphere, Winter Solstice is right around the corner. On December 21st, we’ll experience the longest night and shortest day of the year, ushering in the winter season.
At first, winter is pretty great. The solstice marks the return of the light and, if you live in Washington or anywhere with noticeably less daylight in the fall months, you are so ready for this. Plus we have the holidays.
Even if you don’t celebrate, there’s something to be said for the energy that the holiday season brings. Homes and businesses delight our senses with twinkling lights and festive decorations. Gatherings fill our hearts and calendars. There’s a lightness in the air.
But then the new year begins.
The lights and decorations come down. We return to work. The dreary days and long, cold nights seem endless… as it turns out, the return of the light is a slow process. Driven indoors by the unpleasant weather, we start to feel a little stir-crazy, and by January, we’re longing for the vibrancy of spring.
Winter can’t be over soon enough.
But what if we take a different perspective?
No doubt you had an active summer, especially this year (before the Delta variant took the wind out of our sails). You may have also experienced a resurgence in activities as we moved into fall.
More and more folks were vaccinated; mask mandates were reinstated, and acquiring a negative PCR test became the only thing standing between you and your attendance at gatherings and events. Life has almost felt normal.
Read: we’re busy again which, for many of us, means we’re also over-extended.
Seasons aside, let’s acknowledge that living through a pandemic is exhausting, and we’ve been doing it for nearly 2 years. It’s an additional complexity layered upon our already very busy, very full lives. All that to say: our nervous systems are begging for a break.
Winter is a special, yet misunderstood time of year. While short days and gloomy weather may preclude us from our otherwise active social calendars, there’s great beauty and solace to be found in this natural lull. Winter is the season of hibernation, rest, and recovery. All living things in the natural world – not just plants and hibernating critters – need rest.
Yes, despite what the modern world tells us, we too are living things who need this rest, and this is our moment to prioritize it.
Rest is natural and necessary.
It’s easy to get sucked into the grind – to be constantly on the go, moving at a breakneck pace – when the messaging we’re receiving celebrates productivity and shames anything that disrupts it. Unfortunately, we are not immune to the damage this causes. Burnout is real, and it happens when we push ourselves too much and ignore our basic needs.
Topical comics by Janie Stapleton
If we’re to avoid burnout and properly care for our earth-suits, rest is non-negotiable. Unfortunately, it’s not so simple for most of us. If only we had the luxury of tucking in for a long winter nap! Alas, we do not.
We have responsibilities that we must tend to daily. Even if we do subscribe to a lifestyle that matches the intuitive cycles of nature, how do we slow down – and actually enjoy it – when the world continues to move full-speed ahead?
We’re glad you asked!
Step 1: Acknowledge your limitations. Real talk? You can’t do it all. The sooner you can free yourself of this expectation, the sooner you will find yourself operating at a more sustainable pace.
Step 2: Determine what you can offload. Take a look at your list of to-dos and must-dos. You almost assuredly have some tasks and projects that don’t specifically require you to complete them. Keep the ones that are yours, and make a note of the ones that you can entrust to others.
Step 3: Ask for help. Delegate the tasks that don’t need your specific skills and expertise to your most trusted humans. Leveraging support from your friends, peers, and family members is your antidote for the overwhelm.
Coincidentally, winter is an especially ideal time to take these steps because of our natural inclination to refocus, review priorities, set boundaries and intentions, and let go of what isn’t serving us before the new year (or, ideally, as we recharge for the more active seasons ahead). Plus, odds are high that you’ll be seeing more of your trusted humans, thanks to holiday festivities and gatherings.
Use this time to bring those humans in on your experience! If you can lighten your mental load, you can regain the time, energy, and spaciousness that you need to fully enjoy some winter rest.
Lean into and honor this seasonal energetic shift.
Have you ever noticed a dip in your energy levels in January? It’s that unshakeable and lingering wave of physical, mental, and emotional exhaustion that hits when your visiting relatives go home and you’ve attended your last holiday-related event for the season.
You might attribute it to post-holiday drop, which is reasonable, but what if it isn’t just that? We know that the go-go-go pace of modern living is unsustainable, and so do our bodies. The fatigue we experience is telling and it behooves us to pay attention when our little warning lights start to flash.
- If you’re tired, allow yourself to sleep more. Take naps. Maybe even follow the sun’s cues and adopt an early-to-bed, late-to-rise sleep routine.
- If your couch is calling, take a seat. Put on some cozy socks and snuggle under your favorite blanket. While you’re at it, light a candle and settle in with a book and hot tea for ultimate comfy-cozy winter relaxation.
- If you’re feeling a little more introspective, make time for self-reflection and intention-setting with meditation, journaling, or yin yoga.
- And if exhaustion and lethargy have left you entirely unmotivated, that’s okay! Do nothing. Kick back and let your mind wander. Binge-watch a good show. Doodle in a notepad or get yourself a coloring book.
Whatever you do, meet yourself where you are. Tune into your needs and give your mind, body, and soul what it wants and deserves. Embrace the season and relish the slow-down.
Too busy to rest?
Take a deep breath, remind yourself that you’re not alone, and send some of your tasks and projects our way! We’re here to help you disrupt the grind and lighten your load, so you can have your downtime and enjoy it too.
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