• Wellness: Keeping it Seasonal

    Wellness, Like Illness and Disease, Is Seasonal

    I am admittedly a child of summer. I’m a Leo who gave birth to two Leos. I adore the sun and the summer air and I thrive in long, sundrenched days. Sunshine, cool water, warm skin. Heaven.

    But, as it is January, I’m trying to embrace the winter, both the one that is outside of me, as well as the one that lives within me. In her book, Wintering: The Power of Rest and Retreat in Difficult Times, Katherine May reminds us that allowing us to sink into the pillowy snow of our internal winter can sometimes be just what we need. Not only is the book a sensory metaphor goldmine, but May shares her intimate journey through winter and her unexpected metamorphosis during this unanticipated time. Our approach to what we need to be well, in winter, is likely different than in other seasons. I ask you to consider how you, too, could embrace both your external and inner winter wellness and perhaps allow yourself to find a more seasonal relationship with wellness.

    One of the most notable shifts in winter, for me, is that my wellness is hugely dependent on sleep. Though I am never amazing at sleeping in, I give myself permission to push the sleep limits in this, the darkest season. With the sun setting in PA around 5 PM or so, my sleepy time hits me somewhere between 3-4 hours later, and I am pretty sure my ideal bedtime is 9:00 PM. When I can, I really listen to this, and I head upstairs with my book to “settle” before attempting to sleep. I try to catch that drowsy window and hold it close until I can nestle into the den of my bed. My daughter recently asked why I need so much time to “settle,” and I shared this with two close friends, the three of us collectively kvetching about our children’s audacity to request “more” (ie, any true interaction) as the evening advances. One said that a common phrase in her house while growing up, shared by her father, was that “broadcasting hour is over at 7:00.” I have decided that I intend to use this phrase with my family, lovingly signing off as needing more rest and alone time during these long winter nights. It’s a seasonal way to draw loving boundaries for my weary body and mind. Already introverted, my need for retreat expands in winter, and instead of crabbily fighting it, I’m learning to acquiesce to this solitude.

    My other hibernatory wellness practice in winter that is different from other times of the year is that I welcome… snacking. As a lifelong NON-snacker, I find myself rummaging through pantries, jars, and crinkly bags, just plain in need of more sustenance to get me through each day. This has long been a conversation topic amongst friends and I – friends who are professional snackers – because I am new to the land of the snack, having grown up in a non-snacking house. Because this was a way that I grew up with, it was only upon visiting friends’ houses that I learned to love the way of the snack, something that creeps back into my awareness each winter. Nuts, cookies, muffins, you name it, my body just needs a little “extra” as the kids are saying these days. And as it’s winter, what else is there to do but say, yes please! I share all of this to say that if ever there is a season in which to give yourself permission to do things a little “extra,” it is winter. In this lean season, let us find ways to make it full. 

    And since we know that this can be an especially tough season, a group of us are putting together a women’s winter wellness series for each Wednesday lunch hour in February. The intent of this series is to be very winter in nature – cozy, warm, approachable, and to give you some tools to get through the final months of the season. You’ll learn about managing anxiety, stress and how it relates to your skin and hormones, nourishing your mind, body, and spirit, and the power of both taking time to pause AND to connect. Sound cool? I hope so! Sign up today!

    About the author:

    Leah Rockwell, LPC, LCPC is a dually licensed therapist in PA and MD, providing online counseling for women through feminist therapy. She’s a lovingly direct counselor and a co-parenting mom of two daughters, determined to make the world a better place for tomorrow’s girls. In former lives, she was a Spanish teacher, a sex education instructor, a wine vendor, and she is pretty sure she was a mermaid.