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09.11.2020- On Embracing Hibernation


Well, here we are again friends. Winter lockdown life after a one serious rollercoaster of a year. I don't feel in any way surprised that we find ourselves here again, but there's something about heading towards more restrictions at this time of the year which feels just that little bit more deflating than it did back in March. At least back then we had the summer to look forward to, with the promise of longer days, warmer weather and the potential of escaping outdoors; all three of these aren't completely compatible with winter life, but we must try and make the best of it. Being able to meet up with one other person in a public place outdoors is definitely a bonus, as is the fact that a lot of green spaces and gardens will stay open this time around. Phew. So, as well as anticipating lots of wintery walks (check out my outdoor edit from last week for some top tips on kitting up), I'm also trying to change how I'm thinking about Lockdown 2- framing it more as window of winter hibernation.

Top of the list of the things which I won't miss about this winter is commuting. Trudging to and from the station in the cold and dark was never at the top of the  list of things which I loved the most about life, and if there's a lasting legacy after all of this is a long-distant memory, I hope that one of the things which changes is a better work/life balance for many of us. Last year, I was so worn out by the time we got to November that I developed a cold, which turned into a cough, which turned into a chest infection that made me throw up every time I had a coughing fit. And, the absolutely ludicrous thing about it? I only took some time off work to go to the doctors to get some antibiotics. Here's hoping that the days of toxic presenteeism are done and dusted, and that we can all put ourselves and our own needs (health or otherwise) first from now on. 

Like so many others, the industry I work in (or should that be worked in) was almost exclusively geared up around Christmas. January is generally a pretty fallow time with people tightening their belts after the festive season, so there was something about November and December which was very much 'all systems go.' Unfortunately being so busy at work often meant that I spread myself too thinly with my friends too, and I'd tend to fill up my diary at the weekends to try and compensate for not being as free to do things after work during the week. And so the cycle of perpetual tiredness, of falling asleep on the sofa/train/bus and of having headaches so bad that I couldn't see out of my right eye continued, like I was strapped into some relentless rollercoaster without being able to reach for the emergency stop button. 

A couple of years ago, when I was talking to a friend about feeling really run down at this time of the year, they told me to look at nature for an example of how to cope with winter. On the whole, trees and plants die back to conserve all of their energy for the spring. Hibernation is a thing- and fighting the instinct to rest more whilst staying warm and cosy in favour of pushing yourself to do more than you would be otherwise goes against all of the signals we're being sent from the world around us. So, this year perhaps more than any other- don't push through your instinct not to cosy up with a box-set and your duvet for fear of worrying about everything else you might need to be doing. Swim in hot chocolate after hot chocolate. Appreciate the sunshine whilst it's here. Give yourself a break- after all, you've more than earned it. 

(Image credit: Sarah Farrell, please do not reproduce without permission.)

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