I came across this thought the other day that said something along the lines that the winter months are meant to be a time of slowing down … of entering our own human state of hibernation.
It went on to say that perhaps seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is not as prevalent as we think. Rather, we refuse to slow down and, instead, expect the same amount of productivity from ourselves as we do the other months of the year.
Now, I’m not dismissing seasonal affective disorder. It is a very real thing and many struggle with it. But, when I’ve thought back on the past few years, I know that January to March is always hard for me.
The holidays are over and my soul yearns for warm weather, green trees and colorful flowers. I don’t know that I’ve done much but survived these months the past few years with a hollowness and emotional numbness that I’ve consistently named as SAD.
Now, I can also see that part of the fuel for the emotional numbness was frustration and irritation that my body seemed to only drag through things that I can do seamlessly in the warmer months. My full days, which can be rejuvenating in the summers, were achingly exhaustive in the winters.
And I know this can be a frustrating thing to read because many are stuck in inflexible work schedules and taking care of kids that are also in their own chaotic schedules. This is where I encourage you to look at times of day when you have control. What are you filling those times with? And how do those times compare with how you fill your extra time in the warmer months?
I don’t have a list of things to try for the winter. What I can say is that if you give yourself permission to slow down these next few months and sit mindfully in a space when you grant this permission, I imagine some ideas may present themselves. Humans are meant to slow down these months, so if we give ourselves space, those desires will likely make themselves known.
For me, when I’m home, I give myself permission to have on comfy, warm pants. Whether sweatpants or PJ pants, it doesn’t matter, I give myself permission to be comfortable and warm.
I have a soft, warm blanket by me all the time, too. I light a winter-scented candle every day. If it’s a sunny day, I still go outside. But I only do when it’s the warmer parts of the day. I don’t pressure myself to get out right when the day starts as I do in the summer. My weekly meals include at least a couple of warm soups.
Maybe these ideas will align with what comes up for you when you create space and curiosity for slowing down, or, you may find yourself craving your own unique shifts.
As a person who knows both the struggle of SAD and slowing down in a hectic-thriving society, I leave you with this loving-kindness:
May you create space to listen to and attune to your body during these winter months.
May you give yourself permission to slow down.
May you lean into curiosity about what your soul craves in this season.
May you be gentle to yourself as you adjust and create new patterns.
Kylie Larson, MA, LPC