The last few weeks I have been talking to the women in the room, but I absolutely do not want the men to feel left out. Not just men, but also non-menstruating women as well. There are still ways to add these rhythms and cycles to your lives. Menstruating women have the internal advantage, but that does not mean that the rest of the population is left in the dark. All we have to do is look to nature to find our guides.
I have talked in previous posts about how disconnected from nature we have become. So I am going to challenge you a bit to get reconnected to some of these natural cycles. The first step, as always, is to become aware of them. So let’s start there.
I am lucky to live in a place that has very distinct changes in the seasons. The very traditional sense of Winter, Spring, Summer, and Autumn are easy to see and my life changes dramatically from season to season. Even in more temperate regions and climates, there are shifts to follow. So how can we integrate the seasons into our lives to help alleviate burnout? First, we have to become aware of the seasonal changes. Then, check in with yourself in these seasons. What do you truly feel like doing, eating, and being? Our biology has a huge influence on our sleep, energy, moods, etc. It is a losing battle to fight against it. Increased stress, overwhelm, and exhaustion are bound to catch up to you. Are you ready to start leaning in and catering to it instead?
Winter is a time of rest and going inward. It can be hard to turn off and shutdown when the world never stops, but it is so important. The decrease in light actually changes your internal circadian rhythm slightly. We don’t have as much long-haul energy and we need more sleep. We are drawn towards foods that are heartier and more comforting. Things like protein and fats. Movement-wise strength and power-type training that can be done in a short amount of time. With increased rest, our bodies recover much easier from these intense but short training sessions.
The daylight is growing and so is our energy. We are able to spend more time doing activities and we need slightly less sleep. Our diets shift as fresh produce starts to become available. We also area getting ready to make more connections with those around us. Think social and fun with friends or family, especially movement wise. Try something new like a class or join a social group based in your interests.
A lot of us really shine in the summer. More daylight means more energy. We are able to stay up later and enjoy staying outside for long periods of time. Long bike rides, playing volleyball all day at the barbecue, and long walks all sound great. We are firing on all cylinders and getting stuff done. We are eating the bounty of summer in tons of fresh fruits and vegetables and keeping our body nourished with quality proteins. Life just seems easier in the summer. We must wind down though, as trying to force summer energy(go-go-go) during other seasons is incredibly stressful on our bodies and minds.
You ever wonder why the beginning of Autumn feels bittersweet. On one hand, you look back on the memories of summer and miss those sunny days doing the things you love most, but on the other hand, you are exhausted and ready to start slowing down. Your body and mind are ready for a little less daylight, more sleep, and back to the complex carbs, high protein, and increased fats to nourish your body. It is a slowing down and a transition we all need.
Shifting Your Lifestyle to Fit the Seasons
The biggest shift you can make is in your sleep. This actually is the easiest change to make, and then affects everything else. We want to surround ourselves, as much as possible, with NATURAL light and avoid or minimize unnatural light. This looks like shifting your waking and sleeping times more toward sun up and sun down. Your eyes should see sunlight within 1 hour of waking up. This sets up your entire circadian rhythm for the rest of the day. If you didn’t know it already, your circadian rhythm affects EVERYTHING: hormones, energy, metabolism, etc.
And as we all have heard through various sources, minimizing unnatural light, aka devices, after sun down sets us up for more efficient and restful sleep. It is totally worth it to get yourself a nightly routine that lasts about 30-60 mins and does not include looking at any screens.
Try just this one thing for me, and let me know what changes you start to see. Also, lean in to the seasons, don’t fight it. Your biology is catered to live in the natural world. The more you embrace it, the easier and less stressful things get. Next week, I will dive into another natural way to live cyclically… hint: it may involve that other big object in the sky.