For those of you who know me, you know that I have a chronic illness that requires daily interventions. This winter, I had two infections that ended up being five day long hospital stays each. I have had quite a few wake up calls in the past four and a half years, and I think maybe I am finally listening. So here are a few things I’ve learned this winter:
1. Guilt free rest is totally ok
I used to feel really guilty for what I mistakenly viewed as laziness. My body NEEDS rest. Everyone needs rest, and some people need it more than others because they need to heal. Taking naps during the day, binge-watching a few netflix shows (ok maybe a lot sometimes), laying in bed reading…this is not being lazy. It is healing and restorative. We all go through different seasons in our lives. Sometimes we just cannot slow down without the world falling down around us. But when we can, it is definitely not something to feel guilty about. I am in a season where I don’t need to be constantly on the go, but society puts that pressure on us, and I decided to stop worrying about what others might think.
2. Winter was cozy instead of depressing
Every winter when the sky darkens earlier and earlier each evening, I fall into depression. Before I go further, please know that I am in no way invalidating depression. I have struggled with it and I take medication daily for it. This year, I embraced the idea of winter coziness, widely known in Europe as hygge. I love sitting or laying on the couch in the evening with some lit candles (note that I finally used my candles, previously unused because, well, if you light them, they eventually burn down). I love my twinkle lights and the quiet calmness of a dimmed room and a warm blanket, a crochet project in my lap. I almost could say that I’m not ready for longer days.
3. I don’t need my phone as much as I think I do
So I struggle with perfectionism. One of the ways that it manifest itself is that if I am on Facebook or Instagram or Pinterest, I have to catch up on every.single.post that I missed since I last checked in. It could take me literally hours to go through everything. I also was forever checking my email just in case by some chance, some sort of life changing event was going to happen and I had to know immediately. I deleted Facebook from my phone, I don’t constantly check email, and sometimes *gasp* I leave my phone in another room for a while. I think I once even ventured out to the grocery store without it.
4. The extra 30 minutes in the morning is SO worth it
Given my need for rest, I had perfected my morning routine so that I could go from bed to getting in the car for work in 20 minutes. It’s quite amazing. But instead of feeling more rested, I felt rushed and more exhausted. I have started waking up with enough time to lay in bed for a few minutes while I take in the new day. Sometimes I will check Instagram, read a blog post or two, or do the NYT mini crossword puzzle. Whether it is a work day or a day off, I make sure to make some fresh coffee and sit on my couch or at my table and drink it without distraction. No more sloshing mugs of coffee in the car. While I enjoy my coffee, I read my Bible, write in my journal, or even write a real actual letter to mail to a friend. I find that I am less exhausted and stressed with just these few extra slow minutes. This is probably the greatest gift I have given myself of everything I’ve listed. A quiet morning really makes my day go well. Again, sometimes you aren’t in the season for this to happen. But there will come a time, I promise.
What did you learn this winter? I’d love to hear from you!