Embracing Winter

Lack of motivation.

Wanting to stay cozy inside and stay warm.

The temptation to sleep more.

Craving comfort foods.

Today’s culture would have you believing that there is something wrong with you if you find yourself feeling these things. You may be thinking . . .

  • “I’m so lazy.”

  • “I can’t stay motivated.”

  • “I haven’t worked out once this week, I am such a failure.”

  • “There must be something wrong with me, I was doing so well and I totally fell off the wagon!”

What if I told you that all these feelings are perfectly normal and human for this time of year?

We unfortunately live in a time where hustle culture is glorified and we expect that we should be able to keep the same energy levels and perform and produce at the same high levels all year, every day. But that is not how human biology works. Just as we need to rest in a daily cycle, winter is the season of rest in our yearly cycle.

Take nature as an example.

When winter comes, some animals have settled into their dens for hibernation. The ones who don’t hibernate typically have decreased activity levels and depend upon the stores of food they have hidden to sustain them through the cold season. Many share dens and cozy up together which increase their chance of survival because it minimizes heat loss and they are able to share resources.

Plants also go through a dormant stage in the winter. Growth stops so they can conserve energy. Perennial plants and trees have cellular changes to allow them to withstand the freezing temperatures. They go into a period of rest before the growth cycle begins again.

Considering that humans are mammals and a part of nature, is it really a surprise that our instincts tell us to preserve our energy, eat more calorie-dense foods, and gather around the fire with our friends and family to stay warm and share resources to make it through the dark season?

Our biology responds to our shortened daylight hours, the less direct angle of the sun, and colder temperatures. Sunlight sets our circadian rhythms, so a part of that tiredness and temptation to settle inside and stay warm is a response to the lack of sunlight and cold that is inherent to this time of year. Many people tend to become deficient in vitamin D during winter which can affect many processes in the body. There are also studies like this one that show that the seasons affect gene expression and cellular composition of our bodies.

Spiritually, winter is the season for self-reflection. It is a time to mirror nature and let go of the things that no longer serve us and focus on coming growth. It is an excellent time to work on our subconscious stories and limiting beliefs, to slow our external focus and let internal work take center stage.

This winter, give yourself some grace. Gather around the fire with your loved ones. Eat the (real) foods that will sustain you. Work on your limiting beliefs and use what you learn about yourself to propel your growth forward. Move as much as you can, but don’t beat yourself up when your motivation ebbs and flows – or if weather interferes in your workout plans.

You are a cyclical being. Learn to flow with the cycles of nature and your body – it will change your life.