The Wisdom of Winter: Rest, Renewal, and Growth
Updated: Apr 13, 2022
Many of us view winter a dreary, sad, cold, and dark season, when, in fact, winter can be a season of light, warmth, comfort and growth. In the Midwest, after months of planting, harvesting, holiday activity and stress, winter blesses us with the gift of a quieter time for rest and recovery—if we are open to receiving the gift.
According to Beth Bruno, “In winter, it is common for people to say everything is dead. On the contrary, those bare trees and shrubs are doing what we should all do. They are shifting their focus from their outer being to their inner being. All their energy is going back into the dark warmth of the deep soil where their roots can rejuvenate, renewing themselves for another season of productivity.” We, too, can make choices that will rejuvenate our minds, our body, and our spirits. Here are a few suggestions from other cultures for making winter your time of rest, renewal, and personal growth.
Practice HYGGE—Hygge (pronounced Hoo-ga) is the Danish lifestyle described as "the art of creating intimacy", "coziness of the soul", the "absence of annoyance", "pleasure from soothing things", and "cozy togetherness.” main component of hygge is that you're feeling present, spending quality time with yourself or your loved ones, savoring each moment and enjoying the simple pleasures of life. Hygge is a perfect way to relax and practice self-care.
Practice Niksen—Niksen is the Dutch lifestyle concept of doing nothing. It is defined as a short period of mindless relaxation or allowing yourself to simply BE. Before rejecting this concept as mere laziness, be aware that research is finding that intentional idleness turns on the creativity centers in the brain, can increase productivity and help us recover from stress and burnout.
Practice Shinrin-Yoku— Shinrin-Yoku is the Japanese practice of forest-bathing. There is no doubt that spending time in nature is beneficial for our overall health and well-being. But unlike taking a strenuous hike, Shinrin-Yoku is simply about being present in nature and being quiet and calm while being surrounded by trees. All you need to do is breathe deeply while mindfully observing the natural environment around you. Research has found forest bathing calms your mind, re-energizes your body and relieves chronic stress. Getting outside in the fresh air and sunlight even in your own backyard, can produce the positive benefits of Shinrin-Yoku.
In the U.S. we view January as a time for making big resolutions and setting major plans and goals for the year, although research is robust on the health and wellness benefits of slowing down. What if we took our cues from the Danes, the Dutch, and the Japanese and use this season to go within and focus on our inner wellbeing? Chinese philosopher, Lau Tzu is credited with the quote, “Nature never hurries and yet everything is accomplished.” Winter welcomes us to quiet our mind, be still and it is the perfect time of year to embrace a slower pace of life for our health and well-being.
Winter Blessings, Coach Linda