Taking Advice From A Bear This Winter
Hibernation is defined as the state of minimal activity and is characterized by slow breathing, low heart rate, and deep rest. Most commonly done by animals during the cold winter months. But could we take a page from a bear’s book and try out hibernation ourselves? I am not asking for you to hole up in a cave for months on end and sleep for weeks (although that doesn’t sound too bad) but after the hecticness of the holiday season what if we all took a break this winter?
It doesn’t need to be a full boycott more like a moment to really be self-centered. A moment to focus fully on yourself and look inward. Spending time alone can be difficult for some. It can be hard to say no to friends and family invites and worry about what other people think. It can feel lonely sometimes and difficult to sit with the feelings that tend to come up when you give yourself space to digest situations.
I am a big believer in savoring your alone time. Whether it’s a few hours or days or even minutes. I have come to understand that I am a person who needs a hibernation, no matter how long, to recharge. It took a lot of talk therapy to convince myself that it was ok to spend time alone and it indeed did not make me a bad mom, wife, friend, or employee, insert title here. It, in fact, made me better and allowed me to show up better as a wife, mom, etc.
A time of hibernation is essential to growth, it allows you to destress and unwind, increases productivity and creativity, and most importantly, puts you alone with the thoughts and feelings you’ve been holding onto for months that are waiting to be processed and digested. I have some pretty amazing personal breakthroughs when I allowed myself the space to sit with situations I had otherwise been avoiding. So, here’s my wild suggestion. Pick a week, a couple of weeks, a month, whatever works this season (or anytime you feel like you need it), and enter your hibernation era.
- Drop the social media off your phone. We are all so wildly connected to each other’s lives through social media. It’s not a mystery what any of your loved ones are doing on a daily basis. Along with the FOMO- it can make us feel like we should be doing all the things too, or showing everyone glorified versions of our everyday lives. Spoiler alert, social media is not real and you don’t need it to validate you.
- Lean into your movement. Whatever you feel best doing, yoga, walking, cycling, or lifting. Having the time to yourself allows you space to do what you love every day. Mix it up or try something new. And you don’t need to even post progress pics, just do it for yourself.
- Read a book. Or two. When I find myself mindlessly scrolling Tik Tok, I try to put it down and pick up a book. It doesn’t even need to be personal development or learning something new. If spicy books are your thing, then by all means, just read!
- Test out a “damp” month. We all enjoy a drink or two with friends or a glass of wine after a long day (hi, it’s me.) But as we all know, not only is alcohol not good for us but it’s a numbing technique, which makes it hard to process what is necessary for you to work through for growth. I’m not one to advocate for cold turkey but maybe consider not drinking Sunday through Thursday, limiting any drinks to 2 maximum, or switching to nonalcoholic beverages for a few weeks.
- Say no. After all the parties, dinners, end-of-year meetings, events, and activities for our kids, I, for one, am looking forward to a long season of staying home. You’ll catch me most weekends and evenings doing a puzzle with my nine-year-old, walking the dog, or going through every room in the house on a decluttering rampage. It can be hard to say no to a girl’s night or friend’s dinner invitation but the amount of pressure it takes off your plate is so rewarding. Be honest with friends and family, and say “I’m saying no to this now so I don’t overwhelm myself during a season of rest, but let’s get together in a few weeks”.
- Get outside. Not to sound “woo woo” but connecting with nature can really help you come home to yourself. Check out our article on some different ways to get outdoors in our January/February 2023 issue.
If you don’t have a month to set aside for a mid-winter nap, here are some things you can do every day to find a moment of hibernation.
Mini Hibernation Steps:
- Get up early. I know, I know. It’s dark and cold but those precious moments when the house is quiet and your coffee is hot make it worth it.
- Close your office door. It’s ok to ask for a moment of quiet to finish a project or do some research.
- Take a 20-minute walk. Especially, if you’re a stay-at-home mom or work from home, get outside by yourself for a few minutes and get some fresh air.
- Take a spa day. It doesn’t need to be spendy either. Grab a spa playlist on Spotify, a facemask, an ice roller, a new nail color, or whatever feels relaxing to you, and spend an afternoon cuddled in your favorite robe.
- Take yourself to dinner. I said what I said. Go to a restaurant and eat dinner alone. There is something so empowering about getting dressed up and taking yourself to dinner. Take a book ( or don’t), and order whatever you want, without picky children or worrying about feeding someone other than yourself. Take your time, don’t rush, and don’t forget to tip your server.
However, if you choose to spend some alone time or hibernate, make yourself a priority this season (and every season) and allow yourself a moment of peace to show up better for others and most importantly, yourself.
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