Hibernation: How to Handle The Wintertime of Life

HibernationIt’s been a wild ride lately.  Here at home we’ve been dealing with the flavors of winter  – death, loss, and a good amount of forced restorative rest.

A winter period in life is a time when we’re invited to stop and pull inward (regardless of the actual season).  Like a plant that goes dormant in the cold and darkness, there are times when we, too, need to go dark for a while in order to grow.  This emotional hibernation allows us to restore our energy.  And it does something else – it gives us a chance to process experiences so they deepen into the necessary wisdom that will guide the next phase of our lives.

In my earlier years, I did my best to avoid emotional winters. I filled up my time with lots of activity and used my head far more than my heart.  That way I could stay disconnected from the discomfort of my feelings. But, the beauty of conscious aging changes everything.  As I’ve grown up (physically and emotionally) I’ve come to see wintertime as an extraordinary opportunity for positive change.  Retreating from the outer world for periods of time has given me perspective and the emotional strength to make important, sometimes unpopular decisions.

I’ve used helpful tools to not only survive, but ultimately thrive during a period of winter and I thought I’d share three of them with you this week.  They are:

  1. Truthful conversations.  We need the love and support of those who are spiritually mature enough to engage in authentic conversations about the importance of going within to promote change.  This authenticity comes from having survived inward seasons themselves. People who understand the nature of emotional winters will support you in staying under by reminding you of the beneficial wisdom that will be born when spring returns.
  2. A spiritual practice.  A regular practice that connects you with your spiritual center and the Divine oneness of all beings will become a healing balm for the loneliness that can occur during wintertime.  A big fan of prayer, I often wear or carry beautiful prayer beads with me to use spontaneously throughout the day.  I meditate by sitting with my eyes closed, directly in sunlight, whenever possible (vitamin D is good for restoration, too).  And I have written conversations in my journal with my Wise Self, using two different colored pens to distinguish between my personality and my soul.  I think of this practice as a spiritual Q & A session.
  3. Commune with nature. During winter periods I find comfort in taking long walks in nature.  My body moving, breath deepening, blood pumping, I look for evidence of the Divine all around me.  As a matter of fact, I often ask, out loud, to be reminded that I am not alone on this journey of healing and wholeness.  And I usually receive some kind of sign.

Winters are a necessary part of life.  Learning to embrace them rather than avoid them is the key to making them work for you.

Some of the best things that have happened to me in my life were born after a period of winter.  As a result, I’ve learned to settle in and celebrate the darkness knowing it’s a harbinger of light.

Take Action Challenge

How are you supporting yourself during a winter session in your life?  I’d love to know.  Visit our Facebook community and share your thoughts with me here.

Humor is such an important part of surviving winter.  This week’s video is short and funny.  Some things never go out of style  .  You can find it here.  Thanks, Deirdre!



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Cheryl Richardson

Cheryl Richardson is the New York Times bestselling author of several books including, Take Time for Your LifeLife MakeoversStand Up for Your LifeThe Unmistakable Touch of GraceThe Art of Extreme Self Care, You Can Create an Exceptional Life with Louise Hay, and her new book, Waking Up in Winter: In Search of What Really Matters at Midlife.

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