Updated: Oct 29, 2020
If you are anything like me, when the clocks go back the natural urge to go into hibernation for the next few months is something I openly admit too.
The shorter days, the cooler weather it all lends itself to snuggly blankets, warm drinks and dreaming of a brighter, lighter future.
You may find the change in season impacts motivation or well-being too. Whether it’s a gradual nudge towards nesting down or a sudden transition into a sluggish pace. Mind & body can certainly feel different.
Just as nature responds to patterns of seasonal change. Growing your own awareness, of how natural patterns impact your wellbeing, can be useful too. Enabling you to explore and discover ways move with, rather than against the shifting time and weather.
Personally, Autumn is my favourite time of year. The change in colour offers an inspiring back-drop. It naturally invites me to reflect on change and transformation of the year gone-by (and oh what a year!). Also wandering a path of thought that leads to new year ambitions and opportunities.
It’s common to sense changes in our body in line with changing seasons.
Our psychological, and often physical, separation from the natural world (in modern lifestyles) is something I often reflect upon with clients. Recognising the seasonal shift, we take ourselves momentarily, back to our place in the natural world. You might be perplexed by transitions in mood and desire to rest, reflect and restore. In nature we see these very patterns playing out as leaves drop from trees, squirrels forage and store and the woodlands become sleepy, still places.
It’s easy to take on a strategy of resistance to these feelings, to fight the tide and try to push on. But what about acceptance?
What if we lean into the tone of autumn and winter and create self-care strategies aligned to this?
Could you forgive yourself for taking things slower? Making wiser decisions and knowing this is all just temporary. Until the days get lighter, shoots push through the soil and birds babble like brooks at the possibility of new beginnings?
You may be familiar with the term Seasonal Affective Disorder also known as “Winter Depression”. If you are experiencing S.A.D you may find that you have increase irritability, lethargy, lack motivation, desire more sleep and seek comfort food more than often. You can read more about S.A.D here.
As the light slips into the autumn/winter seasons we find that our body’s chemistry may adjust too. Less light is said to change the functioning in the Hypothalamus which helps to regulate our body and mind. Shorter days can mean a reduction in serotonin a hormone that impacts mood, appetite and sleep. This gives a neuroscientific narrative to changes in sleeping patterns, lower motivation, feelings that are duller or heavier and the increased desire to polish off a loaf of bread!
Rest, Reflect, Restore.
Although you may not find you experience changes as clear-cut as S.A.D you might find your general mood, at this time of year, make it trickier to keep focused and motivated in your work or life. More effort than usual to do the things that you completed, like am excited gazelle, in the lighter months.
If this more slumberous mood is something you are not ofay with, you might find you are the source of your own frustration or worry?
Things taking longer to complete or to even start at all?
Inspiration to do certain tasks lacking; laying bare to personal scrutiny while you search for your mojo in a drawer or behind the sofa?
There are a couple of things you can do to help you with this seasonal change. And I encourage you to take inspiration from nature for this. Nature does not judge itself for these seasonal changes. In fact, it embraces the principles aligned to Autumn. Making the most to lay bare, be still and rejuvenate.
It took me a while to accept that my very being was designed to be part of the seasonal ecosystems. You can take me out of nature, but you can’t take nature out of me!
Instead of huffing and puffing at the undone’s and the desire to “Be More Snail” and hide in a shell. Now, I lean into to the desires of my circadian rhythm and the melody of Autumn.
Resilience is mutually about acceptance and flexibility. In choosing to recognise your changing needs in these seasons you help to evolve your mindset and adjust. In doing so, life’s responsibilities can be completed inline with your energy levels and with greater kindness to your internal resources.
Find your time zone – In these darker months I respect that my usual vigour for the morning slips a few hours. Whereas productivity in spring is usually before 10am for me, by September my peak time is 11:00-14:00. Now, I focus my workload around this pattern. Choosing tasks that require administrative focus during this time and embracing the freedom to flex to my focus and motivation in this way.
Abundance – When things are dull and dark it’s easy to pine for sunnier days both, in weather and mood. Now is the time to focus on the good things in your life. Take time to explore gratitude or notice all that you cultivated and sown (metaphorically). This can be a great self-led way to help boost positive chemistry in your mind/body too helping enhance feelings of warmth and happiness within.
Forage for creativity – self-care comes in many forms but having space to be creatively inspired in these winter months can be a helpful way to ride the wave of seasonal change. Whether it’s a new hobby or learning something or rediscovering old connections to or with something/someone that inspires creativity. Being creative will inspire and energise those great feelings that came more naturally to body and mind in the lighter months.
Colourful cookery – Being cosy does not mean you have to compromise on healthy choices. I often work with clients who regret the pounds they piled on desiring comfort in these colder months. If you are keen to maintain balance in this area of your life, explore the wonderful colours of seasonal food and explore new recipes that enrich your life with health and happiness making you feel good. This link from the British Nutrition Foundation shows some great health benefits of seasonal food at this time of year.
Connect with Nature – so this may come under the heading of “standard advice” from WTMG’s . A walk connecting with nature is a great way to help you access time and space to reflect, restore and rest. Getting out in nature in the daytime will help boost those positive chemicals in your brain, in turn enhancing your body. Nature enhances all our senses from the crunch of the leaves, the aromas of fall, the lush vibrancy of colours or the nibble of cool air on your skin and in your lungs. Walking not only offers a form of exercise (which will help with motivation & stress management. It also gives you space to reflect, process thoughts and problem solve.
Play- I fully endorse play as a strategy for boosting mind and body in any season. Nature is a great space to play in at this time of year, kicking up leaves, hanging from branches. Play indoors is equally beneficially. Find ways to fill your autumn days and nights with laughter and silliness. Just another way to help mind and body replenish at this time of year ( and all year round!).
Be still & rest – Give yourself permission to find rest space, sleep or pause. Consider what truly is a priority at this time. What ideas or tasks can you place in hibernation? Keep things simple to help you replenish. Consider how rest helps you with resetting and restoring from the day?
Learning to rest can also be about letting go of expectations and negative self-talk that act to belittle and beat yourself up about the “should” and “need to’s” . Remember resilience is about acceptance and flexibility. Understanding things might take a little more energy. Being flexible to chop and change priorities, this is all part of having time and head space to revive.
What are your top tips for self-care and motivation in these darker months? Share them in comments or post them on our Facebook page?
For help with mindset, motivation or other ways to change in nature contact JK to discover coaching in nature packages for individual or employee wellbeing.