As the holidays wind down and you prepare for the New Year, it's important to give yourself permission to rest and relax. Our culture has become so accustomed to being busy and feeling productive to feel worthy and accomplished, we sometimes forget the importance and beauty of simply being without a goal or end result in mind—or worse, we confuse being with being lazy. Without allowing yourself the time and space to slow down and literally hibernate, you can't expect to access optimal levels of energy and creativity when you return to your regular routine. Professional athletes in training consistently schedule rest days so they do not overtrain muscles, ligaments, etc. Otherwise, they set themselves up for injury or burnout, or they simply can't perform because their body is fatigued. Regularly taking the time to replenish your energy through deep rest and giving yourself the gift of unstructured time to do whatever you want to do without judgement—permission to do nothing, stay in your pajamas all day watching movies, enjoy a cup of tea for half an hour while you stare out the window, or read a book by the fire all afternoon—is high level self-love and self-care, two major components of health and happiness.
3 Ways To Power Down This Winter So You Can Reboot & Upgrade For Spring:
Listen To Your Body When the time changed in October, I noticed I felt tired and wanted to go to sleep, but when I checked the time, it was only 7 or 8 pm. I thought that's insane, and initially tried to override my body’s cues. When I actually listened to my body and went to sleep at 8 pm, I woke up after 8 to 10 hours of sleep with an enormous amount of energy, and my productivity and focus levels increased. Over time, after giving my body what it was asking for, it naturally adjusted back to its regular sleep/wake cycle. Creating great health involves tuning into your body’s messages and acknowledging what it needs even when it feels counterintuitive, inconvenient, or crazy. Listen for your body’s cues instead of powering through and forcing with your mind/agenda. At this time of year, your body might also be asking for a more restorative exercise routine such as yoga, walking, hiking, or pilates, and yet, some may require the opposite. Only you know, connect and listen.
Nourish Your Body Eat seasonally, and eat foods chock full of nutrition to boost energy and the immune system. In Chinese medicine, it is recommended to eat warm foods in winter time to aid digestion and keep your core warm. Cold foods, like smoothies, raw foods and ice cream, cool the body, can put out the digestive fire, and are best saved for spring and summer. Now is the time to enjoy comforting foods such as chili, soups, veggie/bone broth, grounding root vegetables, teas, and porridge. Use cravings as information, and experiment with more natural alternatives and supplements to eliminate cravings and support your physical body. Strive for balance, not perfection. There is always room for wise yet delicious, pleasurable indulgences.
Engage In Soul Soothing Activities Don't underestimate the power of allowing for unstructured time in your schedule, regardless of whether you have 20 minutes or 2 hours. Nap, schedule a massage or acupuncture session, soak in the tub, read, write, paint, bake, enjoy quiet time, or simply give yourself more time and space to enjoy your favorite warm beverage. Take your time in whatever you're doing. Consciously eliminate any pressure or feeling rushed. It is often in these present moments the greatest inspirations come through or a solution to a long-standing problem presents itself. Enjoy this time without guilt. When spring arrives, you will be prepared to burst forth into the light of spring and reap all that you have sown because of the nourishment, love, and support you cultivated while in hibernation mode.
Image by Susan Wheeler
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