I had an experience recently which was incredibly humbling and also had me think a lot more about energy expenditure and in particular, energy consumption in the winter
We go stranded in our new electric car due to frigid temperatures (It was – 23C out) and we found ourselves stranded in a very isolated and desolate parking lot in the middle of the night trying to charge our car.
Not fun and somewhat scary as we didn’t have extra gear or equipment.
We were left feeling incredibly humbled at how much we take for granted as we sat there in our car waiting for the car to charge (which it didn’t…tale for another time) for hours in the freezing cold,
I was left with the realization of how many things I barely think about in my day to day life: heated cars, and homes, the resources required to keep us safe, nourished and healthy, not to mention warm ,particularly in the depths of winter.
We live in a world where it’s fairly easy to bypass this.
But even with all the luxuries in our modern world and homes, we’re not immune to the effects of the seasons.
Each season brings with it a unique blend of gifts. Unique energies, emotions, resources and cycles of growth that are required to thrive in each season.
It made me think a lot more about winter and the uniqueness that this season brings.
I’ve noticed my deep call to rest, the been so respectful of the energy required to simply stay warm and alive.
I’ve also noticed what the longer nights and and frigid temperatures prompt me to do.
The following are some reflections on how to align with and live with the seasons. Simple prompts to stay nourished, fed and supported in a world that flows in cycles.
Winter calls for us to slow down and rest.
Peel away the unessential and root into what truly brings sustenance and nourishment.
We simply don’t have the resources to be spread too thin in winter.
We need to be still and rest more.
Get quiet to listen to what it is that needs attention. What we need in the most basic of ways.
We do this so that we are able to have the resources and energy when it’s time to move in spring. If we scurry about in winter, we are expending way more energy and resources than we have capacity for and it exhausts us.
If the seed tried to grow in winter it would die
If we don’t rest, we don’t have the energy to move forward and we burn out
Perpetual movement is depleting and causes us to deplete. We loose enthusiasm, passion and life force.
This can also lead to resentment of the very things we thought we loved or enjoyed if we don’t honour our inner needs.
Deep rest allows a stilling of the unnecessary and a stripping back to the very essential.
This is winter.
Our brains literally slow down in winter. We reprioritize where we put resources and we rest. We deeply deeply rest. Our metabolism shifts and we go into our own version of hibernation.
Trying to push through, bypass or override this basic needs can send us into physical, emotional and spiritual overdraft.
We get fried, depleted and under nourished and then, we don’t serve anyone well.
So how do we honour this when we have families and jobs and basic daily living responsibilities?
How do we rest when life says there’s still so much to DO?
The following are some very simple invitations to try to find another way to listen to your inner needs and adjust your energy for the season.
Allow for more deep rest in winter.
Going to bed earlier, even if it seems WAY too early.
One client resisted going to bed early (as in 8pm early) even though she was exhausted. When she finally gave herself permission to go to bed early, starting just one day a week, she noticed a tremendous difference in her energy levels during the rest of the week. Now she plans for 1-2 nights a week of very early bedtimes in the winter and then she naturally has energy for evening activities the rest of the week.
What does your natural body clock want you to do, regardless of what your mind or other people say?
See what’s most alive for you and Strip away the unnecessary.
What is it you truly want to do? What keeps trying to get your attention?
My need to get into bed with a book was basically screaming at me for weeks before I really started to honour it. I was staying up later to spend time with others when I really needed some solo resting time.
Getting into be early with a book both felt great, but also had me align more deeply with my true energy levels. I actually found myself turning off the light to go to sleep much earlier than I would have expected (usually because the book fell on my face after about 20minutes of reading b/c I was nodding off). This meant I actually got deeper sleep and more rest and a bit more solo quiet time which is what my body needs at this time of the year.
Trusting in the cycles
The energy to do more WILL come back and there is, as they say, a season for everything.
Energy changes season to season, and, for women in particular, it’s important to pay attention to the infradian rhythm that happens weekly, monthly, or seasonally versus the 24 hour circadian rhythm that our modern world is set up on. Understanding this longer cycle can be really helpful in managing energy and expectations.
Planing or having a list of tasks that are less extroverted or have a more puttering and mundane energy during lower energy periods can be helpful vs having a constant push to get the todo list done, regardless of how you actually feel.
Reevaluate your list
Yes there are lots of things we might be asked to do, or have on a list. Or perhaps they’re on the dreaded “should do” list. But the should do’s really shouldn’t be driving our lives.
One of my clients reported that she was struggling to ‘get things done’ on her todo list and she had been feeling stressed about it. But then she started to tap into what she actually felt like doing and shifted her list to honour this.
Doing her dishes felt natural in the morning but she had found herself chastising herself for not getting them done and resisting doing them at night. When she recognized they would get done effortlessly in the morning, she let go of the struggle and it freed up a lot of energy and space.
She also found when she created her daily actions based on what she felt like doing/had the energy for, vs the should do’s, things that had been on her list for ages, actually got done with ease.
She completely cleaned out her email box of over 80,000 emails effortlessly because that’s what she was called to do. This had been on her list before, but it never seemed to happen. Now every time she looks at her email she sees a totally manageable inbox which has freed up a tremendous amount of energy. This same task seemed impossible in the summer, but effortless in the winter. By listening vs pushing herself to do something else that she simply didn’t have the energy for, at this moment allowed her to accomplish things with more ease and efficiency (and WAY less resistance).
With this must come a trust that energy WILL shift again and we will have periods of higher energy, productivity and more dynamic tasks and being in the world.
So often women report to me that they’re afraid of a) being called lazy but b) that if they stop and rest…they’ll never get back up.
We need to rebuild trust around energy cycles and the natural rhythms that are inherent in nature and in every life and creative cycle. The call fo deep rest does not mean it will be like that all the time.
Spring will come.
But when we push through, we dip into our reserves and that leads to more depletion in the long run.
Pivot for the season
How we live, eat and move should shift season to season, throughout our lives and through our creative cycles.
How can you shift basic living cycles during the year to suit where your energy actually is, not what you think you should do.
Eating warm cooked foods vs anything raw or cold is important in the winter.
Rest more in cold dark months and be more active in the warm sunshine filled ones.
Shifting activity and exercise season to season is also important.
It’s important to move, but high intensity and longer workouts are best suited for summer vs the slowing down and stillness of winter.
What activities can you pick that create healthy movement without being depleting?
Restorative yoga, winter hikes and bundled up walks, dance breaks throughout the day, gentle hatha yoga, core or gentle strength building and stretching that focus on low back supporting exercises are all great for the winter energy. But avoid anything that is depleting or exhausts you.
It can be hard and challenging to shift up behaviours and mindset season to season. Particularly when we’ve been told to ‘just get on with it’ and to push through with the same schedule and expectations year round.
Yet we are nature.
And whether we like it or not, our body, mental state and energy needs shift throughout the year.
We tend to be in love with spring and summer in our modern western world.
We love our smoothies, bootcamps, high productivity and getting sh*% done.
But, what if that is harming us and ultimately slowing our growth down not to mention sucking some of the joy out of life in the process.
What if, slowing down, deeply listening and resting in the winter, actually gets you closer to your goals, dreams and visions than pushing through?
What if deep rest, stillness and warming nourishment is the most important thing you could do this winter?
How would that feel? And what simple thing could you do today to honour that in yourself?
I know for me, particularly this year more than any other, the cost of not listening is too high. I also know, the more I listen, the more I rest and honour the deep call for simplicity and stillness, the better I feel.