What’s your favorite season? How about your least favorite? Almost everyone has a particular time of year they look forward to, and another time that they dread. For me Autumn is divine! And while I now lump the other 3 seasons into second place, I used to dread winter. I was living out of alignment with nature’s rhythm, causing year-round friction and resistance.
The SADness of Winter
Dread feels much too mild a term to use really. I experienced seasonal affective disorder so as a result the anxiety I experienced going into the winter season would escalate dramatically. It felt much worse prior to receiving the SAD diagnosis however. Having that knowledge did empower me to better understand my body and mental health. It was far better than feeling like I was going crazy and not knowing why.
In those weeks before winter blew in, I would be hypervigilant about taking care of my mental health, swearing I’d continue to work out, spend time outside in the sunshine, and maintain social outings with friends. This year I wouldn’t “let it get me”. And when I would still have episodes of depression and panic attacks, I began my decent down the shame spiral. In my mind I had “lost” the battle. What was wrong with me? Why couldn’t I maintain my lifestyle and health when the entire rest of the world was functioning just fine. (This of course wasn’t true, but welcome to my headspace)
My attempts to live an eternal summer were sabotaging my mental health and causing me to feel as though I was incapable, worthless, useless, and defective. Upon reflection of those times and the demands and expectations placed on me by both self and others, I realized there was never any thought about allowing the soul to rest. I didn’t live in any rhythm, let alone within Nature’s rhythm.
The RESTfulness of Winter
We’re told to rest when ill or in preparation for an event. We know the importance of a good night’s sleep. But while Nature’s rhythm beats strong each day, that same rhythm resonates through our months, seasons, years, and lifetimes. It’s simply hard to hear over the din of western culture. A cultures that urges us to maintain our performance, creativity, and energy levels year-round.
Nature’s rhythm though, invites us to rest deeply for long stretches. She sweeps the sleep from our eyes with renewed hope and increased energy. There is a time to bloom and burst with inspired action and a time to draw in, reflect and prepare for a truly restful break. A time to allow both body and soul to rest.
We can fall into Nature’s rhythm in many ways. Rise with the sun and withdraw at dusk. Ride the wave of increasing energy toward the full moon, exhale and rest as the moon wanes into darkness. Be inspired by Nature’s resilience in times of drought, flooding, or fire. The single dandelion persevering through the crack in the concrete is another powerful example of Nature’s drive to overcome adversity.
Be present and visible and active through the summer, knowing winter’s gift to you is a time to withdraw into your own heartspace, dream and doodle, sip and slow down, feed your body, nourish your soul, and rest deeply knowing the zephyr of Spring is on its way to awaken your heart once more.