Hibernation, Activity and the Winter Blues

Creative Difference

The short cold days of January left me with the urge to hibernate. The manic modern world would not let me do much of that, but it’s a natural feeling in tune with the turning of the seasons. After the fever of Christmas we need a gentle time until the lengthening days softly pull us back to activity.

Sadly January often gets spent in the gym on short-term intense exercise regimes (I used to be a culprit), rather than resting and going with the natural cycle of things. I would like much more to take my own cue from Jessica the cat, whose attitude to winter is to grow more fur, put on weight and stay beside the fire. She knows that spring and summer will see her outside once more becoming the lithe hunter nature intended.

Some people’s mood is much affected by the seasons, particularly short days and absence of sun. Winter depression, or Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), can be difficult, partly because we are expected to be ‘sunny’ in our disposition at all times, rather than treating ourselves gently and giving ourselves what we need. The clue to our attitude as a culture is in the name (it includes ‘disorder’), as if we expect the seasons to no longer affect us.

It also shows our assumption that ‘depression’ is a bad thing, rather than a message that we need to stop to contemplate what might be out of balance. Getting up early to work, exercise, detox and otherwise live the all year active modern life of doing and achievement gives little time to feel the blues and find their value. If we could hibernate during this period we might not fight the rhythm of the year and our bodies so much.

So this year I’ve gone easy on my post-Christmas waistline, tried to pace myself with some reflective time and let the natural rhythm of the year work on me. Living in the countryside helps, but my achievement is limited, simply because work allows little respite. However I feel better for the change in attitude.

Jessica is good at hibernation. When spring really comes she’ll be away and out chasing mice, but for now her technique for avoiding the winter blues is clear from the picture below.

Chris PaulJess hibernate



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