Dealing With Winter – Learning From Nature

2182376536_87a875701eThe temperatures are already putting me in a bad mood, and even though we’ve only had one snowfall, I’d say I’ve had about enough for the year. It is way too early to be already having blistering temperatures in the middle of November in Indiana. I do have a tendency to suffer from SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder) in the winter – my depression/anxiety is always worse. The lack of light and inability to go outside much (unless you want to freeze) leaves me feeling restless and irritable. But this year I’m going to try my best to change my perspective and flow with nature, instead of against it.

As much as I dislike this time of year, it does remind us that even nature needs time to relax and rest. The forests are still and quiet, blanketed with beautiful snow, with all vegetation asleep until the coming spring. It is a great time for reflection – to be in solitude and think about our lives, our goals, and our destination. As human beings, we all tend to complain about how we never have the time to do anything and constantly feel like we never have time to take a break. But the time of year when nature tells us we can, we tend to ignore it and keep moving, wishing it were spring. You have permission to be still and quiet. If nature needs it, we do too. In our world, stillness is one of the hardest disciplines to practice. Is it any wonder people feel more stressed than ever before?

This year let’s not focus on how cold it is, how miserable the weather is, or count down the number of days until spring. Let’s be still and watch the example of nature – we might even learn a thing or two.


 

Photo Credit: ***Bud*** via Compfight cc

Stillness – The Mind’s Medication For Stress

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No matter where we look, technology is everywhere in our culture.  Not only is it everywhere, but it’s getting more and more advanced every day.  That smartphone you just bought is practically out of date within a few months.  There’s no doubt that technology is a great thing and offers us many opportunities that otherwise wouldn’t be available, but one of its many promises is to make our lives easier.  Strangely, the move advanced technology becomes the busier we seem to be and the less time we have to ourselves.  Think back to the last time you’ve been able to just sit back and relax with absolutely nothing to do and nothing on your mind…Can’t remember? Ok.  Think back farther…maybe farther… Don’t beat yourself up- I couldn’t either.

 Is it any wonder that stress and anxiety seem to be more prevalent in today’s culture than anytime in history?  Our brains are constantly filtering an overwhelming abundance of stimuli practically every waking hour.  Work bleeds into personal time.  Personal time takes the place of rest time.  Then, you get a whole 5 hours sleep to repeat the process all over again the next day.  Yep, life is definitely stressful. 

 So what’s the solution to this madness?  Stillness.  Yes, as in sitting still without the TV on, without your cell phone, and without your “to do” list rolling through your mind.  We need at the very least 5-10 minutes of this time a day to give our minds a rest from the endless information it is processing.  Think of it as the brain’s way of resetting itself, and it gives the body a chance to start releasing the stress that’s been bottled up all day.  Set aside a little time everyday to just be quiet and still your mind, and you’ll begin to feel less stressful and will actually become more productive at work.

 Without much free time as it is, how do you schedule in time for stillness?  Well, the main thing to focus on are the benefits.  Being quiet and still probably aren’t the first things on your list of exciting things to do.  You will most likely learn to appreciate the time more once you start seeing the results it’s producing in your life.  The less stressed you are, the better you’ll sleep.  Your mind will begin to become clearer and more focused.  You will find you can get things done quicker and be more productive with less distractions in your mind.  You’ll be a happier, more fulfilled person the less stress you have in your life.  It comes down to prioritizing this time into your daily schedule.  It may seem like an unimportant action, but it can drastically change your life. 

 Here Are Some Ideas To Get Started

  • Lounge on the couch and organize your thoughts
  • Just sit and observe nature
  • Meditate
  • Pray
  • Listen to ambient, classical, or jazz music
  • Go for a quiet walk, bike ride, or drive

 What other things help you “reset” yourself after a stressful day?

How do you make time for stillness in your busy schedule?

photo credit: <a href=”https://www.flickr.com/photos/colinsd40/14470019407/”>Colin-47</a&gt; via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a&gt; <a href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/”>cc</a&gt;