This month, I want to talk about slowing down. About winter and replenishment. I was struck recently by the wording of a recent event invitation. It spoke to those looking to “avoid the slow down in clients this season”. It got me thinking, why are we culturally so averse to slowing down?
Chinese medicine teaches us the benefits of aligning with the seasons. Winter is a season of slowing down. Winter is colder. It’s darker. And in many ways we can see how nature doesn’t support the same level of activity and productivity during winter months as it does the rest of the year. As a culture however, we tend to place a higher value on speed, productivity, and moving forward, while undervaluing the qualities of slowness and restoration. We opt for keeping pace. We're afraid of losing momentum. Perhaps we lack the faith it requires to shift from doing more to being more? Ironically, the being place is wherefrom we derive our power to do more. I mean, how much better are you on a good night's sleep or after a nap?
Consider these examples of “winter deficiency syndrome” (WDS)...
Did you know every menstrual cycle has a "winter" phase? Most women are unaware that every month our menstrual cycles follow a natural rhythm, much like the seasons. Those of us who keep track know each cycle has a “winter” phase when hormones are less supportive of intense or production driven activity and benefit from more replenishing and restorative practices. Yet we are expected, even by ourselves to continue on month in month out at the same pace. I truly believe most women would suffer far less PMS and menstrual symptoms if they understood these natural rhythms, equally honoring the monthly spring, summer, fall AND winter time of the month. (If you have questions about how, please reach out!)
What about the 4th trimester? I believe our cultural failure to recognize the need for a robust postpartum leave is one symptom of our society’s aversion to winter energy. New parents are expected to bounce back quicker than most find necessary to sufficiently replenish reserves after having a child. On several occasions I've seen women's postpartum recovery regress when they've tried to start doing too much too fast. What would it look like if we were culturally more supportive of a postpartum “wintertime”?
This here is a call to honor the winter of things in your life whether it's planning for a more nourishing postpartum experience, tracking your menstrual cycle and learning more about how to support all phases of your month, or something else entirely for those of you not expecting or menstruating. For anyone wanting to avoid a case of “WDS” this season, this would be a perfect time to plan some time off (if you haven't already), to look for places in your life to slow down, schedule less, create space, and tend to your need to replenish, however it is that you replenish best.