You may remember my recent video referencing a client of mine and how their creativity was sparked to write children’s stories when they were relaxed and well rested. After advocating in the last Rambling On and previous articles about the importance of remembering to revive and restore continuously – not just during ‘holiday’ time – it was a pleasure to read an article from Mac+Moore about rewriting the narrative on winter. With inspiration from Author Katherine May, I wanted to reshare some of the points made on how to learn to love these dark winter months.
You can read a slight (equally lovely) variation of this over on the Mac+Moore site.
❄️ Give yourself permission to retreat and restore. The current working world promotes endless hard work and ambition driven by a millennial generation who largely base their identity on ‘what they do’. As a result, we’ve started to deprioritise, disconnect, and undervalue the simple pleasures of doing nothing. But why? We have all experienced how rejuvenating it is to switch off and tune out of work and yet we continue to fight against it aided by the barrage of productivity on our social media feeds. We need to stop, take stock, and start by reconfiguring what we value. With a growing mental health crisis on our hands, time to restore and reflect should be promoted. This winter (and especially one where we’re forced to stay at home) give yourself permission to switch off. When the world is ready to reopen again you’ll be refreshed and restored to take it by storm.
❄️ Take inspiration from nature. Animals hibernate through the winter months, trees shed their leaves and the natural world seems to shut down and die. But look closely and you’ll see that this is far from the truth. Some of the natural world’s most important work is taking place in these winter months. There is an important lesson here… just because you can’t see it – doesn’t mean it isn’t happening. Focusing on internal processes, habits, and rituals that take time allows you to be at your best. Not all great work or successes are ones for others to see and validate. Take this time at your pace and for you.
❄️ Re-write the narrative. We’ve been conditioned to symbolise winters and their allies as harsh, dark places full of despair, loneliness, darkness, and evil. Think of The Chronicles of Narnia and Game of Thrones amongst others. But let’s change the story to promote and celebrate that winter is also the season of renewal. A process of shedding the old to welcome in the new. Without this season we wouldn’t change, grow, and continue to evolve. So change the story you tell yourself and re-write a more positive narrative of Winter. After all, we are the stories we tell ourselves.
❄️ Create your own markers to look forward to. Part of the reason that winter is so tough is that there isn’t much to look forward to or celebrate in the not so distant future. In the Druid tradition this isn’t the case “Druidry has eight markers, which means that every six weeks or so, we have the opportunity to step out of the humdrum of daily life, to honour the conjunction of Place and Time.” Perhaps it’s time to re-think our calendars and put in more reachable things to look forward to. Even if they are just small wins for the time being.
❄️ Jump in. The cold has mental health benefits. Katherine explores how cold water swimming has huge health benefits for those with stress and mental health problems and Scandinavian cultures have long promoted the benefits of this practice. Whilst the idea of venturing into the freezing cold sea or water but be one step too far – a cold shower or a brisk morning walk in the fresh air might give you the kickstart you need to energise you into starting the day in the right way. If you can stand the cold, you can stand anything.
❄️ Finally, it’s important to remember that the long winter months can serve as a reminder that we all will travel through difficult times in our lives. We must learn that in order to have good we must experience bad, to experience the joy we will meet with pain. Winter can teach us something about ourselves if we let it. This sentiment is echoed by one of the contributors to Katherine’s book who works as a seamstress restoring old clothing back to its glory:
“I think about this a lot. The needle breaks the fabric in order to repair it. You can’t have one without the other.”
Hope you are all staying well and looking after yourselves. Thanks Jess and Nat for the thought-provoking ideas.
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