It’s that time of year again – the time many of us dread – when we set our clocks back an hour, when the nights seem longer, and the days seem shorter. Not only do we “lose” an hour of daylight, but we are subjected to colder temperatures, making us less likely to get outside and be active, further limiting our exposure to the warm, nurturing rays of the sun.
Anxiety and Stillness
For those on the anxious side of the spectrum, the Fall/Winter season can be extremely uncomfortable, making physical activity more challenging, forcing you to slow down and confront the unwelcome presence of stillness. The seasonal change, therefore, can feel like an intruder, rudely interfering with our routine, and shining an annoying light on our vulnerabilities. The response is often greater anxiety.
An Unwelcome Visitor or Opportunity for Growth?
However, as with all challenges, this unwelcome visitor presents us with an opportunity to learn and grow, if we resist the urge to dismiss them. For instance, colder temperatures and shorter days can signal a time to relax, reflect, and re-charge. If we look at the Fall/Winter season not as an enemy to be exiled but as a messenger with important things to communicate, then we can examine ways to receive those messages honestly and openly. Can we ask ourselves: has all the activity in which we’ve been engaging over prior months been helping us, or not so much? Has our busyness been productive, in the sense that is has increased our overall physical and emotional well-being, or has it been a vehicle for avoiding uncomfortable feelings? If the latter, what feelings have you been avoiding, and why? Am I able to tolerate periods of quiet and stillness? If not, what feelings do you notice in yourself during these moments? Can this time be used to rejuvenate your meditation practice that has gone dormant, or to begin the practice you’ve been postponing?
The Bottom Line
All of these questions can be invitations to examine ourselves more honestly – to lean into our discomfort instead of pulling away. Although it may seem counter-intuitive, allowing ourselves to feel the so-called “negative” emotions can actually be a vehicle through which greater self-understanding and healing can take place. In addition, being constantly busy can actually thwart creativity, and recent research indicates that having time to do nothing actually stimulates creativity. The bottom line? We need down time to recover and re-charge and use all parts of our brain. Use this time to slow down and check in with yourself. You might discover something worth knowing.