Embracing Winter, Embracing Rest
If you’re anything like me, you didn’t dread winter when you were younger because winter meant snow which meant snow days which meant unexpected and welcome time off from school. It’s only as I grew older that I began to see winter as a burden, a time with less daylight and more cold – and no more snow days. Winter became a time to be endured rather than embraced.
In recent years, I’ve begun to embrace winter and not because I could buy a new winter coat or a season ski pass. For me, embracing winter in the philosophical or spiritual sense means embracing a season of rest. Without the expectations and activity of other seasons, both the natural and man-made world slows down during winter. I’ve realized I can benefit from slowing down too, not purely in the physical sense, but also mentally and emotionally.
Does the idea of slowing down sound boring, unimportant or unproductive? Let’s consider that rest can help us make new discoveries about ourselves and our struggles. Resting can be more “productive” than working harder. Rest can soothe and restore us, nourish us and help us to feel whole in ways that resisting our mental and emotional needs cannot. Just as resting our physical body is crucial for physical health, resting our minds is an important aspect of mental health.
So how can we rest, mentally or emotionally? Resting our minds means taking time away from the dominant pursuits and distractions our minds are normally engaged in. For example, many of us spend our work days solving problems. Mental rest could be engaging with the creative parts of our brain, doing something like art, writing, cooking, or moving our bodies in ways that feel good. Resting our emotional selves means taking a break from people, places, and things that strain and drain us emotionally and intentionally spending time with people, places, and things that help us feel restored, soothed or nourished. If this sounds hard or confusing, consider making a list of activities, places and people that could create space for rest. Try them out, making note of how it felt when engaging with them.
Let’s remember to be kind with ourselves, knowing that resting is sometimes hard if we are new to practicing it. Resting is a skill, a worthwhile one, for the ways it can nourish and restore us, ready for whatever mental and emotional season comes next.
Amanda Jacobson, LMHC, Amanda is a licensed therapist in clinical practice since 2013. She has experience working in both inpatient and outpatient settings, with group and individual therapy and she has a passion for working with people recovering from addictions, as well as codependency, depression, anxiety, trauma, relationship challenges and major life transitions. She earned her master’s degree from Boston University.
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