Do you ever feel at odds with the media proclaiming that it’s time for a ‘New Year new you’?
Whilst the calendar declares January 1st as a new start, the natural world of which we are a part is reminding us of the benefits of rest in anticipation of a springtime renewal. During the winter months our modern linear 24/7 lifestyles are particularly at odds with natural cycles and thus perhaps unsurprising that January can be challenging for many people both physically and mentally. Learning to recognise body signals for rest or activity, company or solitude can support health and help us navigate wellbeing in a complex and challenging world.
We may think technology has allowed us to transcend the natural world but through the endocrine system our body-mind wellbeing remains inextricably connected to day length and seasonal rhythms. From our sleep cycles, digestion, mood, stress responses and metabolic rates the endocrine system acts like a conductor, orchestrating hormones according to the rise and fall of the sun. Its worth remembering that we are all hormonal all of the time!
The oft cursed Cortisol is vital to our waking up process and without the dawn light to stimulate its production, waking up on dark winter mornings can leave you feeling sluggish and perhaps in low mood. At the other end of the day the bright artificial lights of modern living inhibit the production of the sleep hormone melatonin leaving your body ill prepared for sleep and disrupting the night repair and restore phases. The parallels between our relationship to our bodies and our planet are clear; like all physical systems your body operates within limited resources and constantly overriding them undermines the finely attuned homeostasis that supports your health and wellbeing. Using a body clock bedside light that simulates the light of dawn and dusk is one simple and not unreasonably priced ‘hack’ to accommodate our cyclical nature in a linear world.
I honour the wisdom of the ancestors who marked Imbolc as the festival of earth awakening at the point between the shortest day of Winter Solstice and the Spring Equinox, around the first week of February. To mitigate the January blues I invite you to tune in to the buds on the trees and follow their lead, knowing that within a few weeks the sun will be higher in the sky to support the green shoots of growth and change.
If you are feeling challenged physically, emotionally or psychologically, working with the body can be an effective approach; a somatic approach to therapy recognises our bodily self is our thinking, feeling and relating self and so integrates talking, movement and bodywork. Click here to find out more about 1-1 therapeutic sessions with Ali ROSE.