Self care for busy people
Ways to hibernate and resist the “rush” and push of the season
It’s been a hard couple of years and I know that collectively our nervous systems are feeling the strain.
Many of you know if you’ve been hanging out with me for a while that I’m not really one for celebrating Christmas, and this year I am feeling even less invested then usual in this (apologies to the Christmas lovers out there!)
But Winter Solstice on the other hand is definitely where my interest peaks.
This for me Winter Solstice is the turning point, the point of reverence and celebration that I like to connect to each year.
The time of year when we experience the shortest day and longest night, marks the return of the sun, the returning of the light Solstice actually means ‘sun standing still’.
Solstice invites us to pause and reflect, to stand still for a moment and be. It’s a natural time to nourish ourselves within this seasonal pull that draws us down into the darkness, into stillness, quiet and contemplation. It’s a time to rest and restore, to drift and dream, it’s the pause before new buds arrive, new growth and offerings.
“Winter is not the death of her life cycle. But it’s crucible.”
Often this time of year, and many of the traditions we have, seem to me to go against this natural desire we have to draw in, deeply rest and hibernate and it can be confusing for our systems… which quite frankly are already majorly confused already after the last two years that we have experienced. And by systems I mean our nervous systems, which are already overloaded and in need of a break.
And so the invitation to you this year, and to me, is to be super kind and compassionate to ourselves, let the small stuff go. Do whatever it is that might bring you more ease and pleasure and simplicity to ensure that this time can really be a true holiday time for you too.
Because it’s not just for the children or your family, it’s also for you too!
A few ideas are here for you…
Ways to hibernate, self soothe, resist the “rush” and push of the season
Develop your felt sense – inside being aware of bodily sensations and outside being present and aware of your environment.
Orienting to your environment can be a helpful practice. It helps us stay connected with ourselves and our environment in the here and now and develops our proprioception. It also helps us to get out of our heads and into our bodies which supports us to be able to feel more and stay more present with sensation and with ourselves.
“We are able to create true safety when rooted in our bodies and located in our environment. When we locate ourselves in space, we can be more accurate in our assessments of everything around us and therefore more relaxed.”
KAJ, Call of the Wild
Walks out in nature are great to support us with this as we are orientating naturally to our surroundings, which is why we feel so good afterwards.
- So to begin take a moment to check in with you. Wherever you are just pause for a moment, drop your gaze to feel into your body, and any sensations, the connection of your feet on the floor. How do they feel?
- How is your breath and where do you feel it?
- From here start to bring your gaze out to take in the world around you, enjoying the view from a window or when out walking, or just take in what’s visible in your room, a picture perhaps, the textures and colours around you.
- But then start to widen out your awareness to feel into not only what you see but also to what you hear, what you feel on your skin or with your felt sense of your body, and what you smell or even taste. Awakening the senses.
- Don’t rush through it; give it a minute or two. Fully take in each experience, if you are in a place that’s familiar, perhaps seeing the space with fresh eyes, noticing textures, colours, shapes.
You could do this same 5-step process whenever you arrive at a new location, helping your body feel into the space you have landed in, taking time to experience what’s around you, so that you can fully land and arrive.
Another way to orient is to take short breaks on purpose throughout the day. Take breaks away from screens to widen out your vision to the views outside, maybe having little breaks in the garden to widen out your peripheral vision, although you can do this inside too.
- Let your eyes go wherever they want to go, allowing your head to follow gently.
- When an object you like draws your attention let your eyes rest on it for a while.
- When you feel ready, gently move your eyes again and look around. When you feel drawn to something else, again let your eyes rest on another object for a while to enjoy taking it in.
- Continue for 1 – 5 minutes. cultivating an inner and outer awareness to help you feel more grounded and connected to yourself and the space around you.
When we are more aware of what’s going on around us and where we are in space, we can then become more aware of what’s going on inside of us, what sensations we feel and where, because we can be more present to what’s going on.
Doing things that bring you pleasure, real felt sense pleasure that lands in your body as sensation, helps to build interoception and pleasure pathways in the body.
“In order to reside in pleasure we must be able to perceive what is pleasurable – we have to learn how to feel good.”
“Filling our pleasure bucket helps us and helps our nervous systems.”
“We need to create capacity in our nervous systems so that we build tolerance for goodness and joy, not just acceptance of what isn’t working or a tolerance of pain. We need to stretch our upper limit of pleasure. We need to permit ourselves to do what seems indulgent.”
Quotes taken from the fabulous Kimberely Ann Johnson and her new book Call of the Wild
Pleasure can be found in really simple things, some of my favourites are:
- Watching waves on a beach
- Sea swimming
- Dancing, preferably outside in nature
- Cuddles with my boy
- Sand between my toes
- The feel of a silk scarf on my skin
- Hot baths by candlelight
What are your favourite things that bring you pleasure? Find out and do them more!
Take rest where you can
Yoga Nidra is ideal, or even just lying on the floor for 5 minutes will also be a great support. Our systems love a rhythm of activity followed by rest and Dr Huberman talks on his podcast about toggling between focus and rest and how when we can learn to cycle between the two states of focus followed by deep relaxation this creates “an outsized positive effect on productivity (not that that’s our aim!) however. It also supports mental and physical health, known as neural circuit and neurochemical basis.”
Uphold your own boundaries
Recognise if you have people pleasing or fawning tendencies where other’s needs feel more important then your own.
Explore if you can, be bolder in your No meaning No… and can it be both felt and expressed as a full body No? This one takes lots of practice especially for women as we have been taught to fawn and please others over and above ourselves from the word go.
Drop the bundle
Where could you do less?
I definitely feel a natural need to withdraw at this time of year. For me, it’s a natural cave time. I want to drop my bundle, to surrender.
What might this look like for you? Where could you do less?
Remember small steps lead to lasting change, Judith Hanson Lasater taught us on our Restorative course to review the weekly calendar ahead on Sundays and take stuff off… I Iove that!
The inner cycles of life and of a woman’s life are deeply connected with the seasons of nature around us. Winter time is reflective of our bleed time within the menstrual cycle and also representative of the Wise Woman or Crone time of our lives in archetypal terms – the time of Menopause.
These are times to go inwards, like Inanna journeying to the Underworld, to rest in the mystery, the unknown and to surrender to what is, to rest in the liminal space where nothing is clear, but where dreams and ideas can flow and seeds can be planted which will emerge and sprout as we move into Imbolc and Spring.
It’s this rest and hibernation that helps us to bounce back in full force in Spring, so to support you at this time I’ve created this Winter Solstice Reflection Pack.
Enjoy your hibernation time and let me know what worked for you – I love to hear from you.