Why we want to hibernate in Winter

Articles, Charl's journal, Holistic wellbeing Leave a comment  

Take a break… Your body works hardest in winter.

Sometimes we forget that the internal combustion engine has been modelled on the human (and mammalian) body. And we forget, that exactly like a cold car feels on a winter morning, we too are working hardest when the air is coldest and driest.

The instinct to hibernate

Listen to yourself. We’ve done enough separation of body, mind and spirit. Human beings have the gift of functioning in tandem with all our parts, all the time. Winter comes approximately half-way through the year in the Southern Hemisphere. It’s a good half-way point pegged for rest and reflection. The body knows that it’s now time to battle viruses, lower temperatures and less viable air for respiration. This means greater output, and in a way, greater “fuel consumption” – more calorie-rich foods, like our winter squashes and meaty stews. We need more to stay in balance and maintain homeostasis (a balanced body). So, the desire to hibernate is good, instinctual and a healthy guide for activity. Reduce the length of our overall day,  spend more time at home, warm and resting and  generally breath deeper and working more restfully. This will keep our immune system humming and allow us to reflect and process on an emotional and spiritual level. No reflections= no direction.

The desire for a lower gear

Other seasons of the year, especially Spring (renewal) and Summer (harvest) speak to us of super- energy and great physical- holistic stamina. It’s easy to get caught up in this kind of thinking and “energy hype” all year round. I always use the ocean as an example of ebbs and flows. We would have no tides, and ultimately no life in the ocean without ebbs and flows. Human beings and all creation, to a certain degree, are oscillating creatures. We move from first gear to second, to third and beyond. To stay in one gear will completely and very quickly wreck a good engine. Continuing with our car metaphor, one gear can only provide a specific output of power (speed) flat and torque (strength) uphill.  When the landscape and conditions change, you and I need a different gear. My mechanic would physically remove my car if I chose to stay in second or third gear on the highway. This is abuse! And so too is our expectation to stay in one gear all the time. This is self- abuse. Gear down. Listen to your “revs” and celebrate the ebbs and flows in you!

The value of old fashioned sense

I recall growing up with an understanding that “gran will know” or an older neighbour always had a solution for a cold, a burn, rash or some other ailment. There were plenty of people who continued with the old traditions of protecting and celebrating life. Simple things like growing lemons, grapefruit and paw-paws in the garden. Filling the house with dried herbs and taking out carpets and rugs weekly for a good “dusting”. And also eating heavier vegetables ( eg. butternut, pumpkin, winter squash) in winter, and easier to digest foods like soups, bone broths and casseroles. Now, the “collagen diet” is doing the rounds and the medicinal world is singing its praises. But my grandmother knew all about saving the chicken carcass, boiling marrow bones and adding dried peas, lentils and pulses to soups. Old fashioned sense took a backseat to technologically driven medical research. Now this very same research is proving its validity. Do what your grandparents and  great grandparents (if they were healthy) used to do. Have a look at how artisanal (DIY) communities function, and take some simple pages from their books. To stay healthy, is more about maintaining your wonderful engine-mind, body and spirit – all year round – than jumping for the vitamin C or antibiotics. Above all, rest! Your body needs it.






Add a Comment