Why don’t we slow down in Winter?

I used to work really hard then collapse on holiday, sleeping for the first three days on the beach, totally resistant to ‘doing’ anything.  A friend of mine, now retired, worked ridiculous hours, had regular breaks and insisted she was fine, but every holiday developed a bad cough which forced her to lose more than a few days of her planned relaxation time.

How do you live your life?  Is it a case of lurching from one holiday to the next or could you, as I have done for the last ten years or so, bring in more ‘me time’ and pace your life better so that you have a less stressful existence and a better balance between work and play?

Putting time in the diary was key for me, for meditation, yoga at home, catching up with films I wanted to watch, taking time out for a walk; when we are self-employed, or have a family to care for, or are simply still playing out the work ethic instilled in us as a child, we need to recognise the problem and understand that the time we invest in ourselves is as important as the time spent at a desk.

For the animals who hibernate, it is instinctive.  A time of energy conservation during a time of food scarcity.  Most of us don’t have that issue, but what we may experience is a lowering of energy, a reluctance (more than normal) to get out of bed, a need to eat more meat, root vegetables and carbohydrates…..  If this is you, consider your way of life – do you need more nurturing? Try spending a couple of evenings in by the fire – it is deeply relaxing just watching the flames, no need for television. Or perhaps you could go to bed earlier than normal, with a hot water bottle and a good book?  Think about it – what would make you happy?

When we are unhappy and pushing ourselves against our instinctive needs it has profound effects on our mental and physical health. Embrace the simple life, learn to say “No”, and experience the joy of looking after your real needs; this is not lockdown-enforced isolation now, it is cosying up from choice and that gives this time a different quality.

I’m not recommending that you lie around in a state of torpor although, rather than sleep, it should be noted that “Hibernation is an extended form of torpor, a state where metabolism is depressed to less than five percent of normal.”[1] …..and, let’s face it, torpor sounds very attractive on a cold Winter’s afternoon!  It is important to get gentle exercise, do plenty of stretching and mobilisation, and don’t forget pandiculation! (Click here for more on this yawning/stretching phenomenon).

Develop a plan for a form of semi-hibernation and be kind to your body and mind.

[1] https://www.nationalgeographic.com/animals/article/animals-hibernation-science-nature-biology-sleep [Acccessed 17/1/22]

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