Immediately after New Year’s Day, I received several messages from friends who were struggling with feeling down and a little depressed. They questioned themselves, put themselves down by asking “What’s wrong with me? Why can’t I do more? Why am I so unmotivated?”
If you’re feeling a little down, a little low energy, a little “meh”, it’s ok. You’re not alone
Winter is the downside of a cycle of energy, when there is more darkness than light, and when natural rhythms slow down. All you have to do is look around you, see the bareness of the trees, the shorter days and extended darkness to confirm this. It is also when seeds rest in the season and prepare for spring. It is the season of germination.
The winter season is really meant to be a time of complete slow down. It’s a time to hibernate and process all of the old as you gently prepare for the new to come. Winter is for reflection, stillness, rest. It’s a time to go inwards and “germinate”, allowing space for your growth to happen organically and without pressure. Winter is a gift for us that helps us ponder what we really want for our lives moving forward.
So, why do we feel so down?
One reason is that, as stated above, we just have less energy. Our body is conserving energy as it prepares for Spring’s new growth. If you look around, nature has herself has slowed down to almost perfect stillness. We are naturally slowing down and stepping into reflection, germination, and growth time. As our own seeds of growth sit in their germination process, pondering what may come in the Spring, we must be patient with the process and trust in our ability to lean into growth when the time is right. There is always discomfort in growth so if you're feeling that, remind yourself it's part of the process.
Another reason, is because of the pressures of our capitalist society that pushes us to do the complete opposite. It demands that we do, do, do and produce at any cost. I’m sure you felt the pressure to have all your goals planned out by January 1st and know exactly what you’re doing for the rest of the year. Then, you’re expected to start producing immediately and fulfilling those goals. Just typing that out makes my chest feel tight and my body tense. If you struggle with this, you’re not alone. It is an unrealistic expectation considering what we know and understand about the winter season. This drive to plan and produce in the middle of winter goes completely against what this time of year stands for. But, because of the pressure we feel, we tend to feel like WE’RE doing something wrong, like we’re lazy or unmotivated. None of this is true.
How can we help ourselves through this season?
1. Embrace and accept that the winter season is all about slowing down. It is a time to go inwards, sit with darkness, reflect, and germinate. Like the trees and animals around us, we are meant to conserve energy for the spring by moving and doing less than we would normally do. By embracing that your low energy, lack of desire to “produce” is completely aligned with nature’s time clock, you can begin to offer yourself some grace and compassion. THERE IS NOTHING WRONG WITH YOU! You’re just being asked to do something that’s unnatural. Your resistance is on point. Embrace winter’s message of stillness and enjoy. You’ll be busy growing your garden soon enough.
2. Don’t push yourself to do more than you’re able. Pay attention to your body’s level of energy and what it’s capable of doing. As you approach the day and your to-do’s, as yourself these questions: Is this realistic? Is it aligned with winter’s message? Do I have the bandwidth to do it? Remember that it’s ok to move slowly, do less, rest more. If you push yourself to do more than you're able, you will likely feel burned out but it might also set you up to feel like you're failing. Set up realistic expectations of yourself for success!
3. Respect and honor your internal timeline, not anyone else’s. Your internal timeline is aligned with the winter season so if you push yourself to do more, you will zap your energy that much quicker (because there’s not a lot to begin with!) and will create frustration for you. Instead, listen to your body, pay attention to winters’ guidelines for living in this season.
It's not easy going against what society expects of us. I understand that. But we do get to CHOOSE how we want our life to go and if we tune into winter’s message of rest and slow down, we can more easily tune into what we really want to grow for ourselves and begin to visualize that growth appearing in the Spring.
WILD Woman Art Tip - Honoring Your Inner Winter
1. Materials needed: acrylic paints, brushes, cup of water, glass dish (if you have it), painting or multimedia paper.
2. Visualize yourself cozied up in a blanker, a warm cup of liquid in your hands, and just the flame of a fire for light.
3. Connect to the feelings or sensations that begin to emerge and pay attention to any colors, shapes or images that arise.
4. When you’re ready, choose colors that call to you and create and image of that coziness. Don’t think. Just paint. Allow it to flow on the page with ease, without pressure to “be” anything in particular.
5. When completed, find a special place for this image of your inner winter to live where it can remind you to honor your inner desire to be still and that it’s ok to slow down and be cozy right now. That is what the winter season is all about.
Giving yourself space to be in this way during this important season of budding growth, the more you offer yourself grace and compassion, the more energy you will have to take action when your seeds are ready to burst into life. Spring will be waiting and ready to embrace your new growth.
Myriam Martinez is a Women's Mental Wellbeing Coach, Creativity Mentor, Art Therapist, and stick figure artist based out of Northern California. She gently guides women to embrace their Woman-ity© and love themselves fiercely through the power of the creative process. Her calling in this life is to teach women the power and importance of putting themselves first, loving themselves fiercely, and tapping into their creativity in order to bring more happiness, success, and ease into their lives.
To learn more about Myriam click here: https://www.myriammartinezcoaching.com/
mental health, self-care, art