The Practice of Winter Rest
The Practice of Winter Rest. In difficult and hostile times rest and retreat can be beneficial for our emotional and mental wellbeing. We live in a culture that prizes productivity, being always available, online and responsive. A culture where if you are not being productive, if you are not working or constantly doing, you are seen as less than, maybe not quite so worthy or lazy. We on the whole, buy into this way of being and have been swept along by the tide of business and activity, so that when we stop, when we rest and slow down it can feel odd, uncomfortable and unfamiliar.
However, if we look to nature, and the seasons that punctuate the year, we see that in winter nature does not fight the slowing down, the dormancy or hibernation, the sleeping, it embraces it as an essential time to recharge and renew before it is called on again to sprout new shoots of life.
The term Winter Rest comes from the German, “Winterruhe”
It is a state of reduced activity of plants and warm-blooded animals living in extratropical regions of the world during the more hostile environmental conditions of winter. In this state, they save energy during cold weather while they have limited access to food sources.
When times are difficult or hostile, such as in the cold days of winter nature does what it can to conserve its resources, rest and prepare for the next stage. For us, winter is also a difficult time of year, whilst many of us live in heated homes, the weather can make everything more difficult. For many the lack of sunlight has an effect on mental wellbeing and can cause depression. When it is darker and the weather is poor, we may be less inclined to go out, to socialize, we may feel more lonely. There is a greater pull on our finances as we pay for heating and light. Getting up on cold dark mornings to go to the gym or for walk is harder.
So, what if we followed the example of nature and took this time to rest. To cultivate a mindset of slowing down, sleeping more, and not being so hard on ourselves. The idea of resting will mean different things to different people. Rest does not necessarily mean sitting down and doing nothing. It can mean engaging in activities that make you feel renewed. For instance, reading a good book, walking in nature, going to the theatre, taking part in a hobby or group.
Practicing Winter Rest might mean that you go to bed earlier, that you make your home as cozy as you can. That you make arrangements to spend time with friends who have a positive impact on your life. It means to practice compassion for yourself and understand that rest is part of our life cycle and it is important that we don’t skip it, lest we burn out.
The term Wintering, also the title of a book by Katherine May speaks about the power of rest and retreat in difficult times and demonstrates that “Winter Rest” may be beneficial for us at any time of the year. When we encounter a difficult stage in our life it would be useful to remember these lessons of how to manage and remember that this stage of slowness and rest comes before spring, which brings growth and new life.
Below are a list of Blogs on this website that might help you with your Winter Rest!
If you are struggling you might want to speak to a professional. Paul is a counsellor and psychotherapist with many years of experience, you can learn more about Paul here on the About Paul Page. If you would like to make an appointment with him please use the Contact Page or call on 07843 813 537. Paul works in Birmingham and Kingswinford, although currently due to COVID is working exclusively online and on the telephone. For more information about how counselling works and current fees please take a look at the FAQs page.