Hibernation

This time of year is stressful.  I’m definitely feeling it. 

We run around during the holidays adding more stress to our already stress filled lives.  On top of decorating our house both inside and out, fighting people for parking spaces, chasing the UPS driver, standing in line at the post office, agonizing over gift buying, going to ugly sweater parties and hoping our ugly sweater doesn’t look too cute, we’re supposed to relax and think about the reason for the season.

The other day I was talking to my husband and I told him I want to curl up in a ball and sleep.  Some days it’s all I can do to leave the house and go to work.  He diagnosed me with depression. 

Hmmm… 

Maybe I am depressed. 

I’m generally a very optimistic and happy person but I get “depressed” every year around this time.  What is it about this time of year that pulls me into a melancholy or quite possibly a depressed state? 

There’s the Christmas rush.  I am not one of the good people of the world who buy gifts for people throughout the year and store them in the back of he closet.  I am more a stress buyer waiting until at least Thanksgiving to start thinking about the people on my list and adding to the list daily until it is so overwhelming curling up into a ball is the only option. 

My heart rate goes up just thinking about going to Oak Brook and walking through stores searching for the perfect gift.  Usually I end up with the perfect gift for each special person on my list – a taupe scarf that goes with everything and a box of Frango mints. 

I also have the business.  Year-end tracking and review, new year budgeting, holiday specials, and New Year fitness goals are the tasks I have on my to do list. But all I want to do is talk to staff and members and get to know them and find out their holiday plans.

I just heard about FOMO.   It’s Fear Of Missing Out.  Now I know why we eat dinner with our cell phone next to us.  We want to spend time with each other and we do look forward to getting home and unwinding but we don’t want to miss out on a coworker’s post about her amazing child’s science project, a text from our sister about the donut with sprinkles she just passed up or our neighbor’s travel delays.  Why does all the good stuff happen after 6 pm?

Maybe it’s not depression after all; maybe it’s stress.

This year I’m working through the first holiday season without my dad.  He passed away in May and I was married less than a month afterward.  There are reminders of his absence everywhere.  During the World Series, with his beloved Cleveland Indians, so many times I wanted to pick up the phone and call him.  After the Cubs win, I would have sent him a Cubs hat and he would have worn it.  His birthday was just before Thanksgiving and now there will be Christmas without him.  I won’t be buying golf balls this year.

Recently I listened to a podcast and the guest on the podcast made me think differently about how I feel this time of year.  This is the time of year for those of us in “Winter” to slow down and chill out – no pun intended!  The days are shorter and we naturally want to hibernate. 

Hibernation sounds good to me.  I picture it as wearing my sweatpants, sitting on the couch and wrapping myself in a blanket in front of the fire.  I would read, knit, or journal.  It seems like nature is pulling me in to that. 

There’s a lot of talk about getting back to what our ancestors did or believed and trusting our bodies to tell us what we need.  This time of year my body is telling me to hibernate.  It’s not telling me to stop working or working out.  It’s not saying get rid of all the stress in your life.  It’s not staying don’t be sad. 

It’s saying slow down. 

For me, that means when I head to Active Souls to workout, I put the speed on the treadmill at a slower pace and take walk breaks.  I look out the window and watch the snowfall when I’m lifting weights.  I schedule restorative yoga into my week. 

For the next few weeks, as the days continue to be more dark than light, I will plan time to curl up on the couch with a good book or pair of knitting needles.  And I’ll also plan my time at Active Souls to practice self-care by doing restorative workouts, getting a massage (and maybe a facial!) and catching up with people.

I don’t think I’m depressed.  I think it’s my natural rhythm and this year I’m going to respect the rhythm.

What is the reason for the season?  For me this year it’s about stillness and reflection.