It’s around this time of year that I sense changes going on within my body. Instead of jumping on my bike for a 6am ride, I desire only to sleep- and maybe dream about jumping on my bike. Although I should be out raking those leaves that decorate our front lawn, I want to be indoors with my big fuzzy sweater- and maybe watch the leaves, as they blow onto our neighbor’s lawn.
Years ago, I fought this change tooth-and-nail. I didn’t understand this lack of motivation when the rest of the year I was super-charged and ready to go. I’d force myself to rise early, continued to eat the same light salads for lunch, and checked off the tasks I accomplished throughout the day with rigorous diligence. I was drained by the end of the week. I picked up every cold virus that surfed on any nearby sneeze wave.
Then one day I read something that became such a “duh” moment. Nature runs in cycles. Birth and death, moon phases, seasons, ocean tides, and Kenmores. Last I checked, humans were part of that natural cycle, and just like much in nature begins this winter of hibernation, so too, do our bodies prepare us to hibernate. It’s a time to slow down; rest. A time to replenish the store of energy we just drained during those endless days on the beach and the summer nights during which we drank, uh, in all those warm, starry skies.
Now, I realize that between work and family obligations, and a time of year that seems to require we travel at a hare’s pace, the thought of slowing down is downright unreasonable. But wait. There’s more.
While we can’t drop our regularly-scheduled program, we can make sure to schedule time for downtime. Got 15 minutes to spare on Tuesday? Park yourself at the kitchen table with a cup of tea and a favorite magazine. An hour next Thursday? Head to the library- the grownup section- and soak in the quiet. The trick to all this is that you have to schedule time for yourself. If you don’t, you know you’re likely to find something else that needs to get done. Although there’s a lot to be said for being productive, taking care of yourself is the only way to ensure you’ll stay productive.
The people of the Hopi Nation celebrate the winter solstice with a ceremony. The celebration is based on the idea that the sun has traveled as far from the earth as it can and now must be encouraged to return. Though not necessary to have a throw-down Pow Wow in your living room, it’s not a bad idea to take a minute this month and reflect on all that’s transpired this year. Like the Hopi, let go of last year’s energy and mentally prepare for the coming year.
Learning to accept this time of year and not fight it makes it easier to deal with the shorter days and toe-sicle weather. It’s okay that our bodies are craving warm, rich foods (and the couple pounds that come with it), and it’s okay when we don’t have the motivation to check off everything on our own honey-do lists. Allowing ourselves time to recup means that when the tulip leaves are peeking out from the mulch again, we’ll be ready to hit the ground running. Or in my case, biking.
Donna Morin, Health Coach
Website: Better Off Well