December has arrived, a month of celebration and cosiness. We all know, this year the holidays will be different. That’s why this month can perhaps feel darker and gloomy. But it also has to do with the time of the year; short and dark days, rain and cold. Although we often wish otherwise, it can’t always be summer!
However, there are days in winter when the sun is clearly present. For example on a cold winter morning this week when the sunrise was covering nature with a soft golden glow (although it was – 3°C!).
I often wonder if we still accept the rhythm of the seasons in our day to day lives. Don’t we turn it upside down these days?! During the long summer months we rest, go on a holiday and in winter we get up early in the dark and we go to bed when the night already has fallen. And we wonder why we’re so tired and exhausted…
The contrast between our natural rhythm and the one society impose influences our brain. Both hormones, melatonine and seratonine, which regulates our sleep- and waking rhythm, are confused. This has also an effect our immune system. Tiredness is the first and clear and recognisable consequence of the conflict between both rhythms. More and more scientists make a connection between mental illnesses and diseases on the one hand and the disturbance of our natural rhythm on the other hand.
Velocity is more important than conscious living. We love the idea of progress and improvement, don’t we?! Quality has to make way for quantity. Shouldn’t it be the other way round? Speed shields us of what’s really important. How often do we have the time to reflect on the way we live and ask ourselves some difficult and confronting questions?
Slowing down is looking for a balance in order to find your own rhythm in this fast-paced society. The search for one’s own rhythm is all about letting go. Letting go the need for perfection, letting go of time. But isn’t this so hard? At least, I really struggle with it daily. I have to accept perfection is out of our reach. It costs so much energy and one only gets weariness and guilt in return. If we could manage to put less in one day, it would take away a lot of pressure. In a way slowing down is therefore reducing. Something we don’t like to hear, isn’ it?! Especially in this festive month where it’s all about consumerism and spending.
In our short lives we want to have it all, do it all and don’t miss a single moment. But there’s a time for everything. Because a plan, as sophisticated structured as possible, is doomed to fail. Isn’t this a lesson we are learning during this worldwide covid-19 crisis? Many things aren’t that obvious anymore and our plans had to be cancelled or changed. I hope we can chose to see this as an opportunity to reflect on the way we live and question our current lifestyle.
Slowing down doesn’t come easily, we’ll have to consciously chose for it. And above all, prefer quality over quantity! Taking time to, even if it’s only for some minutes, to unwind and settle down.
In winter, the fields and the gardens are at rest. And so should we. Let’s take an example of the rhythm of nature and follow this seasonal cycle. Ovidius already knew this truth, as he has written in this well-known quote.
How we can implement a natural rhythm in our daily lives?
Do less: reflect on your day if everything is absolutely necessary or if you can skip something. I know, it’s tough! I like to do everything on my list and even that’s not enough for me. If possible I already want to do something of next days’ list. But I’m learning and it gives so much rest when I drop a thing. Winter is a the ultimate season to slow down and rest. We don’t have to live at the same pace as we do in summer. It’s okay to allow ourselves to read a book in the evening with a lighted scented candle (my favourite thing on winter evenings) or just do nothing for some time.
Go into nature: we often underestimate the calming effect of a walk in the woods on a carpet of crispy autumn leaves or with boots through the snow or when we catch the last sunbeams on our face. Going out for a walk isn’t a waste of time, on the contrary, it’s an investment in our health and makes us even more creative and productive afterwards.
Eat slowly and consciously: having to deal with a full stomach can disrupt your day and is likely to be avoided. If one eats slowly, one won’t eat too much. And above all, the food will taste better and richer. This is something I’m trying to focus on the past month. Especially the winter season is the right time to make it cozy around dinner with candlelight and enjoy conversations with your family members. I know, we can’t share a meal with friends right now but we can already exercise this for when it’ll be possible again!
Include regularity: figure out how much sleep you need and make sure you go to bed (and get up) at a regular time.
Don’t forget your friends: I know this isn’t easy in this time when there are so much regulations. The last month we had a second confinement and I couldn’t meet my friends the way I was used to. But I have made some beautiful walks with them. It’s so important to see one another from face to face! Friends are often not our priority when they have to compete with kids, work and household. Still, a walk together, an evening out or a long telephone conversation is a source of joy, energy and reflection. And so much needed in this corona- time where we have to encourage one another to keep on going.