I love sleeping,
and I hate to miss out.
This has been my lifelong mantra.
Most of my life I lived up to the full, but always fell into bed at night like someone punched out my lights. The world around me – I felt – never rests.
I exchanged resting over the past three decades with coffee and other things (the usual uppers and downers of the modern man). It was not helpful. Despite my yogic approach to life, I had missed out on the healing ingredient.
For most of us, the time between the winter holidays and the rebirth of spring can bring on some inner and outer conflicts and monkey chatter. These shifting seasons push your mood, hormones, and mindset out of balance when you don’t know how to handle them.
There are biological and physiological explanations for why seasonal shifts and the cooler temperatures and darker days of winter leave you feeling less energetic, cause an irregular appetite, impact your sleep, and make you feel down during the winter months.
According to Ayurvedic doctors, “Your body is nature’s pharmacy, it has everything you need to be healthy.” This refers to the process of listening to the signals that your body gives you and then acting on them. So, what does your body actually need when it’s saying, “Binge eat!”, “Stay indoors!”, or “Crawl under a pile of blankets and watch romcoms!”?
From a chronobiological view, we need to synchronise our biological clock and daily habits with the circadian rhythm (day-night cycle) to avoid some of these well-known diseases.
- Cardiovascular disease
- Elevated blood pressure
- Metabolic disorders
- Neurologic disorders
If you follow nature’s cues, days are shorter and nights are longer. This could indicate that longer sleep time is necessary. When you feel tired, and yet it’s only 8:30 p.m., that’s not the time to muscle through and keep working, it’s time to feel your body and recognise ‘If I feel like it’s a lot later than 8:30, what can I do about this? Maybe I should go to bed?’
So here some things that have worked for me this winter:
- Getting a full nights rest – isn’t a sign of weakness—it’s a smart way to feel better and be healthier. A sure sign you need more sleep is if you are waking up already tired. Aim to get to bed early enough that you can wake up on your own without an alarm clock. And that might mean you sleep 9 hours or more for some of us.
- Crawling under layers of blankets can be a sign that your body is just not at its peak temperature. For some people, a warm snuggly blanket feels like a hug from a friend. If you check in with why you want that blanket on, maybe you’re trying to soothe yourself, or perhaps you are actually cold. When you have that desire to start snuggling under blankets, check if your extremities are cold. You could get some heat through a nice cup of ginger and lemon tea! But what if you’re not cold? What if everything feels warm and you still have this desire? Maybe you need the emotional support a hug or the physical touch of a snuggle. A massage might be in order.
- Humans seem to be slaves to their food cravings in these wintry months. This is a time to listen to your body. Be a detective. Think about what is it asking you to eat and then find a healthy natural alternative. What could be a good fat in your diet? What could be a better sugar than the Mars Bar?
- Go outside. The days are shorter, and sometimes this means your morning run or your evening dog walk are missed. Instead of removing these moments where you get fresh air, natural light, and exercise from your day, try to make time to get outside regularly during your lunch break or in the late afternoon. Schedule it! It is easier to accomplish something when it is on your calendar. The time outside will help you to feel less sloth-like.
- The last thing you might consider when you want to hibernate is that it may be a sign that you need some alone time. Unwind. The holidays are filled with parties, dinners, shopping malls, and airports packed with people. After this overstimulation, it’s okay for you to want some time alone. Just because you love your family or enjoy your colleagues, it doesn’t mean you want to be with them all day, every day. If you’re feeling the need for space, give it to yourself. Alone and lonely are not the same. Spending some time alone can feel luxurious.
To tell you the truth for the first time in my life I made big choices around number five. Despite beautiful and teasing invitations to events and workshops this January I said NO. I have been applying listening to my bodies needs over the past year and out came a big loud NO when I double checked if I wanted to go out. Instead I felt I needed to integrate those end of the year results with some ME- Time to be able to move forward.
The best advice I can give you:
Be gentle with yourself when you feel lazy in the winter. It doesn’t help at all to berate yourself for your lack of energy or inspiration. Stay cozy, fuel yourself with good food, and give yourself a big bear hug. When you are ready, you can emerge revitalized and ready for great things.