The Season of S-L-O-W-ing Down
It’s that time of year where the pace of the holiday season pushes us with force to move quickly, do as much as we can, accomplish as much as possible. Oh and also have your entire next year planned out by January 1st.
Is it any wonder we struggle with overwhelm, exhaustion and feeling like we’re failing or not doing it “right”? We expect more of ourselves than is realistic. We push our bodies, minds, hearts, and spirits beyond their capacity. It’s exhausting and stressful.
Why do we struggle?
We are working against what the winter season calls for. As we make our way towards the winter solstice and move our way through winter, it is a time to slow down and move inwards. In winter, everything goes dormant, and it is a sacred time for rest and reflection as we move from darkness to light.
In our culture, we tend to do the opposite:
We go outwards towards the external when the season calls us to go inwards towards the internal.
We move quickly, as fast as we can go, when the season calls for us to slow down and preserve energy.
We pile more on our plate when the season calls us to lighten our load, do less and reflect.
We overuse (abuse?) our bodies when the season calls for more rest and time going inwards.
Although our body is built to tolerate stress, it’s not built to be in high stress “fight or flight” mode on a continuous basis. Our bodies are programmed to be able to do short bouts of stress that helps us “survive” and keep going to the next thing. (Think sabretooth chasing you from time to time.) But they are NOT programmed to exist in survival mode.
What happens when we exist in this way for an extended period of time? There are many consequences to this way of existing that interfere with our enjoyment of the season and heighten our stress to toxic levels.
One consequence is feeling irritable or cranky. When we go and go and go, our bodies exist more often in “fight or flight” mode which can make us irrational, agitated, and yup, cranky. We tend to have less patience, a shorter tolerance level, and more defensiveness when we’re existing in this mode.
Two, we increase our stress levels, and related hormones (primarily adrenaline and cortisol). This speeds us up and we then feel more overwhelmed, frantic, and more tired. Again, our bodies are not mean to live in this way constantly.
Three, we lose enjoyment. Any fun, beauty, or happy experiences related to the season are overshadowed by the doing, the overwhelm, and the burnout.
There is no fun in any of this! And guess what my loves, we deserve fun, joy, beauty and love.
What to do?
1. Stay connected to the season.
Remember, we are seeing Valentine’s Day stuff before the holidays are even over! Talk about lightning speed!? Stay in the NOW, in the presence of winter and all of the opportunities it offers to grow, learn, reflect and rest.
2. Set an intention.
Check in with yourself and set an intention on how YOU want to be this holiday season? If your goal is to stay calm, find enjoyment, and feel more uplifted, than set that intention!
Then create a plan of action. How are you going to support this beautiful intention? Will you carve more time in your calendar? Re-evaluate your priorities? Whatever it is, you have the power to enrichen your holiday season through conscious intention and action.
3. Start slow.
Begin your day with stillness and moving slowly. When you open your eyes, take a breath, and connect to your body. Roll out of bed slowly and take snail steps, connecting to each step. Stay mindful and present and move intentionally with slowness. This practice will help set the tone for the day and give you a base to come back to when things start moving too fast.
4. Take regular breath breaks.
Believe it or not we often forget to breathe, hold our breath, or breathe too shallow when we’re moving too fast and holding too much stress. This creates tension in our body and doesn’t nourish us in the way we need to be to keep going.
Checking in with your breath regularly throughout the day is a way to keep yourself grounded and help yourself experience more calm throughout the day. You’ll be able to notice more when things are starting to speed up in your body and it will gently bring you back to calm.
5. Check in with yourself often.
How am I doing? Is this a question you ever ask yourself? It’s certainly a question we ask of others with great ease and interest. But not with ourselves.
Check in with yourself throughout the day with love and kindness. How am I doing? What do I need?
This practice helps you connect to your body and avoid depletion. Tuning into what your body needs will help you respond to it with more ease and help keep your stress levels down.
6. Release the stress.
I often share with clients the importance of releasing stress from your body. When you feel yourself getting stressed, what would be a helpful way to release that? Would some gently body movement help? Writing it out in a journal? Find a creative outlet to express it and release it from your body?
Taking the time to “shake” that stress out of your body is a way to help your nervous system reset, get grounded and help yourself to move forward.
Wild Woman Success Tip:
One way to release stress and help yourself move more slowly is through the creative process. Check out the video below where I show you how you can use watercolor and movement to keep yourself chill as a cucumber!
glass of water
Myriam Martinez is a Licensed Psychotherapist, Registered Art Therapist, Women's Self-Compassion Coach, 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 self-compassion, artmaking and creativity. 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/