Wintering can refer to the season outside, but it can also refer to a phase of life that’s particularly challenging and draining. I’ve had to learn how to winter. To really learn that life is cyclical not linear, and that there are times when I absolutely should rest and not push through.
As always, if you prefer to listen, I’ve shared this week’s download on the mum as you are podcast.
Part of learning to winter has been learning to know myself. And, for me, those insights don’t always come from scientific journals and Cochrane reviews. I’m a double air sign in Astrology. I’m also a Vata type in Ayurveda.
I’ve learned that I have a tendency to always want it to be Spring. I want to launch new ideas and projects and be useful. My Shadow often fears that if I’m not contributing then I won’t leave the world a better place and will have made no impact.
When I’m not being mindful I tend to use up every last bit of energy I have, which then results in insomnia, anxiety and feeling spacey.
Here’s what’s helped me through my own wintering:
A sun lamp and vitamin D
I’ve learned that I really need a sun lamp in winter. I turn it on when I first wake up, and if I’m lucky, get to sit with it for a while before the kids absolutely need me to get up.
I’ve been using this for over a year now and I’ve found that just sitting with it and getting up slowly benefits me more than forcing myself to get up earlier to ‘do’ something.
Radical acceptance for my lack of dopamine at night
There’s just not enough dopamine left at the end of the day for me to enrol in classes, catch up on admin or professional development or run coaching groups. I’ve tried and failed a few times at taking on a project at night only to become overwhelmed, exhausted and teary. Other people can manage these things and that’s fine for them, but for me, I need to go to bed early.
My phone is set to ‘do not disturb’ from around 7pm so I’m not tempted to read WhatsApp chats. I stop reading the news. I don’t watch, read or listen to true crime, dramatized crime or anything that might disrupt my sleep. I still do unhelpful things like sleep with my phone in my bedroom and watch TV at night. I’m human and don’t expect other people to be perfect when I’m certainly not!
I mostly stop doing cardio and HITT and switch to walks, weights and stretching
I’ve ended up at my myotherapist’s office with a strained something or other enough times now to learn that I easily overdo it in cold weather. Now that I’m in my 40s I see no need to get up in the dark winter mornings and jump around. My office gets morning sun, so I have a tiny space set up with a yoga mat, some hand weights and a tripod for my iPad. I pop on a workout on Netflix and just move a little when I can in between clients or at lunch. It’s nothing fancy.
I say ‘no’ twice as much
I say ‘no’ to podcast interview requests at 5:30AM. I have to say ‘no’ to myself every time I get a great idea about a new course or a launch idea, or taking more clients. ‘No’ to social catch ups that aren’t a 100% full ‘yes’ for my soul. I have a winter Introvert’s habit of telling myself I need to get out more, spending an hour or two with energetically draining people then spend double that time recovering my energy.
I’ve had to learn to ask myself – “what’s the cost of a yes?” and then ask my body “how will I feel after this catch up? Will it put energy back in or zap it out?”
To learn more about the concept of wintering, this book might be useful