We’ve just passed the winter solstice, and although this means the days are now getting longer, it feels dark, dark, dark. And so it should – we need the ebb and flow of seasons to give our year rhythm and context. It’s just that in our modern culture, driven by bright lights and a 24/7 mentality, we are exceptionally disconnected from those rhythms.
Take the last few weeks … the build-up to Christmas is madly hectic for many, and stressful with emotional pressure. Clients who know me well are aware that I have an extended hibernation break from now into mid-January, but I haven’t always done that. I was all too familiar with the annual winter drama of full diary, mass arrival of relatives, ambitious plans to invite lots of friends round, combined with an unusual focus on getting the house looking lovely, and staying lovely. Well, it took a few years in a row of illnesses scuppering my plans before the penny dropped.
Hence the hibernation, which for me started two days ago. I’m not literally having ‘duvet days’, and my body clock is still waking me up at 6am – but there’s a powerful benefit to having a bit more unattributed time in the mix. Going for walks in bracing weather, appreciating the beauty and power of nature, feels very much more important to me than stressing about Christmas.
And my mind is very much with my acupuncture patients and Zero Balancing clients, many of whom have shared with me their state of stress around this festive season. For some it may be the first Christmas without a loved one who’s died this year, for others there’s the dilemma of whether to spend time with problematical family members or be alone on the big day. Some are bracing themselves to cope with what feels like an insurmountable hurdle – just to get through that one day. There’s something extraordinarily potent about the conflict between the cheery hype and the inner realities for many – the bright glare of festive lights, festive advertising, festive everything can shine a distressing beam on painful family stories. In the past week or so, I’ve heard of Christmas being ‘when mum died’, ‘when dad came home drunk and hit mum’, ‘when it’s all about children, and I don’t have any’, ‘when no one ever helps me’ … it’s no wonder that I don’t start my hibernation until all the people who’ve wanted to book in have had their chance to get a supportive boost.
So, whether you’re over-extended but loving it, or view the Christmas break with dread, treat yourself with patience, kindness and tolerance if you can. In just a few short weeks, we’ll be noticing the lengthening days. For now, if you can, why not put ‘rest’ on your ‘to do’ list?