As I wrote in my earlier piece, for many of us wintertime is hibernating time. Like many animals, we yearn to rest, too. We yearn to slow down and sink into the quiet, into the warmth of a heavy blanket, into the core of who we are.
So how can we slow down this season?
Below, I’ve included a variety of ideas. They’re not revolutionary. But they are reminders. Because I know that often I forget—especially when it feels like everyone around me is sprinting and starting brand new, shiny things.
- Go within. Buy a new journal, and jot down how you’re doing any time you like. Today, this is how I feel. This is the thought I can’t get out of my head. This is what I’m worried about. This is what I’m excited about. This is what I need.
- Say no to one thing you normally would say yes to, which leads to busyness or stress. Maybe that’s an invitation. Maybe it’s deep cleaning. Maybe it’s waking up earlier. What would lighten your load? What would weigh you down less?
- Marvel at the beauty (and fierceness) of Mother Nature. Yes, it’s too cold. Yes, you might be over the snow. But, wow, is it also incredible. Maybe you even jot down why it’s incredible today, and take a few minutes to pen a poem.
- Eat what appeals to your taste buds and needs. Maybe that means having chicken noodle soup. Maybe it means drinking more chamomile tea with honey. Maybe it means more cheesy casseroles. Maybe it means hearty meals with root vegetables. Maybe it means a weekly meaty stew or meatloaf or turkey chili.
- Make movement comforting. Maybe you normally take a 6 p.m. yoga class, but you don’t want to go outside when it’s so dark and damp. Maybe you’re simply exhausted. (That’s totally OK, by the way. Often we push ourselves, and get angry that we’re too “lazy,” and can’t get ourselves in gear or shape.) So maybe you can practice yoga online. Maybe you can practice your favorite poses. Or maybe you want some heart-pumping movement instead. Either way, the key is to explore what you need and provide it.
- Watch whatever you want to watch. This might go without saying, but I feel like nowadays we knock TV watching, and see it as frivolous. Sure, you could be reading a book on nuclear physics, but watching your favorite movies and shows can be wonderful, too.
- Cut your to-do list in half. Give up, for now, the go, go, go mentality and pace. What can you delete or delegate on your list?
- Pause throughout the day to savor your surroundings, to reconnect to the present moment, to fully use your senses.
- Sit with your emotions. View them through a gentle, soft, self-compassionate lens. Try to take this approach in general for anything you’re struggling with. Think quiet, kind, tender, loving. Think of these words as you move about your day, as you go about your routine, as you deal with something difficult.
- Think about what brings you comfort. Think about what slowing down looks like day to day. Think about what hibernating means to you. And proceed with that.
It is OK to slow down when everyone is ramping up. It is OK to want to curl up on the couch instead of hitting the gym. It is OK to focus on comfort and relaxation, whether anyone else is doing the same or not.
It is OK to let go of shoulds—I should set resolutions, I should go to that dance class, I should hustle, I should become a new me-–and to loosen your expectations. It is OK to prioritize your needs, to think that they are, indeed, important.
It is OK to slow down and to hibernate. In fact, it is quite powerful.