Adapting to the Season of Winter – with Restoration!

~ Carol Belanger, BA, RM, BHS

Many among us complain about the winter – not just about the weather conditions affecting us, but also about the short days and long nights. Fact is, we need the restoration winter brings to us. Like Mother Nature we all need a season of rest. However, we’ve forgotten about natural cycles.

In our fast-paced, multi-tasking, spur-of-the-moment, sound-bite lives, we are seriously out of sync with a long, slow, relaxing break. We don’t associate long, slow and relaxing with hardly any activities. Even yoga classes are more often about endurance, strength and power than they are about relaxation.

Like Winter and Mother Nature, there are instinctive and natural factors influencing us, and if we use them to our restorative advantage, we will find increasing harmony and balance with our shorter days and longer nights. Before long, they’ll be thru and we’ll find ourselves busier than ever come Spring.

The natural cycles of the Earth are: increased activity (Spring), growth (Summer), completion (Indian Summer), transitioning (Fall) and rest (Winter). Since we can do things 24/7 – 365 days of the year almost, we soon get out of sync and even out of remembering that these phases exist. We are part of nature, and we need these cycles too. Our busy lives and less than ideal sleeping habits might not be recharging our deeper stores of energy sufficiently. How many of us recharge ourselves during the day versus plowing through to the end, and hoping that our restless sleeps will restore us? Fact: Restless sleep indicates we are expecting too much from our sleep time alone, and need more restoration, rejuvenation and recharging daily. Winter helps us to practice this.

Rest in the winter doesn’t only refer to sleeping. It can mean resting more deeply or longer or more often to restore our resources. There is also meditation, reading, contemplative discussions, listening to music, chatting with friends, gentle stretching, sitting in a bit of sun…all activities to slow down our pace, our mental activity, our stress and hormone levels, etc. to restore, rejuvenate and recharge ourselves. Interspersing these types of activities into our days can be restoring in small ways that add up.

If we spend our time wishing the winter season to be other than what it is, we will miss out on that time and lose opportunities it brings… and our lives are too precious for that.