Our culture is so accustomed to staying busy and feeling productive that we sometimes forget the importance of simply being without a goal or end result in mind--or worse, we confuse being with being lazy. As you settle in for the winter, give yourself permission to rest and relax. When you don't give yourself the time and space to slow down and literally hibernate, it can be challenging to access optimal levels of energy and creativity.
Professional athletes know this well. They consistently schedule rest days so they do not overtrain. Otherwise they set themselves up for injury or burnout, or they simply can't perform because their bodies weren't given the appropriate amount of time to recover. Regularly taking the time to replenish your energy through deep rest and giving yourself the gift of unstructured time to do whatever you want to do without judgment is high level self-care. Here are 3 ways to power down this season and regenerate yourself for springtime:
Listen to Your Body
When the time changed in November, I felt tired and wanted to go to bed, but when I checked the time, it was only 7 or 8 pm. Initially, I ignored my body's impulse. When I finally listened to my body and went to sleep earlier, I woke up after 8 to 10 hours of sleep with an enormous amount of energy, and my productivity and focus levels increased. My body naturally adjusted back to its regular bedtime after a week or two. Creating great health involves tuning into your body's messages and acknowledging what it needs even when it feels counterintuitive, inconvenient, or crazy. Listen for your body's cues instead of powering through or deferring to your intellect. At this time of year, your body might also be asking for a more restorative exercise routine such as yoga, walking, or pilates, and yet, some people may require the opposite. Only you know, connect and listen.
Nourish Your Body
Eat seasonally and choose foods chock full of nutrition to boost energy and the immune system. In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), it is recommended to eat warming foods in the winter time to aid digestion and keep your core warm. Cold foods, such as ice based smoothies, raw foods, and ice cream, cool the body, can put out the digestive fire, and are best saved for spring and summer. Winter is a great time to enjoy comforting foods such as chili, soups, veggie/bone broth, grounding root vegetables, teas, and porridge. Use cravings as information, and experiment with more natural alternatives and supplements to eliminate cravings and support your physical body. Strive for balance, not perfection. There is always room for wise yet delicious indulgences.
Engage in Soul Soothing Activities
Don't underestimate the power of allowing for unstructured time in your schedule, regardless of whether you have 20 minutes or 2 hours. Nap, meditate, schedule a massage or acupuncture session, soak in the tub, watch Netflix in your pajamas, take an artist date, read a book by the fire all afternoon, journal, paint, bake, enjoy quiet time, or simply give yourself more time to savor your favorite beverage. Take your time in whatever you are doing. Consciously eliminate the need to rush. It is often in these present moments the greatest inspirations come through or a solution to a long-standing problem presents itself. Enjoy this time without guilt. When spring arrives, you will be prepared to reap the benefits of the nourishment, support, and self-care you cultivated while in hibernation mode.
Image by Carli Jeen