As we approach the darker months, naturally we want to slow down. Just like other animals, we evolved to conserve our energy over the winter with less light and less food availability. Though it has been many hundreds and thousands of years since then and we have adapted to a very different world, our biological evolution is much slower to catch up. In this modern world where things are always ‘go, go, go’, the foot is never off the peddle and there are always a million things to do – when we approach this time of year our internal calling can be at odds with the external demands. You feel it don’t you? That desire to slow down. Perhaps to retreat a little. And you feel it in the spring too – that aliveness, that energy, that desire to do more. That is nature trying to direct us to what will serve us best at that time.
Some people love this time of year and are energised by it. Perhaps being around family feeds them, (their soul, not just literal mince pies!). They glow. They thrive. If that is you then great! However not everyone (I would dare to say not the majority) experiences it this way. As well as our innate desire to slow down, for some, this time of year brings other worries. It might be financial, it might be family conflicts or negotiating difficult relationships, it might be memories, it might be a first for something, it might be loneliness, it might be low moods because of the limited day light, it might be business worries and pressures….it could be many things.
If this is you, then read on – these suggestions may help! The following tools and ideas may help you approach a situation or event that feels uncomfortable or overwhelming to you, in a way that reduces those feelings and delivers a better outcome.
The Thought Is The Control Switch
When the thought of something brings up sensations and emotions – it is not due to the situation or event itself, but the thinking and stories we are attaching to it. Which is actually pretty cool, because once we know that, all we need to do is change the thinking around it. You might be thinking ‘easier said than done Zoe’, but actually it can be easy! Try it! If you want to think about something differently, you can do. For example if this is a first year without a loved one you may be thinking how much you will miss them, how different it will be, or of old memories. Instead, you could choose to put your thoughts on how you might like this year to be different- what would you change now that you can? What else would create the feelings and environment you want to create? Which are nice, warming memories to hold and which would be nicer to pause? And if you don’t want to change your thinking that’s okay also. Sometimes we want to view things a particular way that is a little unpleasant because it keeps our guard up. It protects us. Our body’s main job is to keep us safe and sometimes that means keeping us wary. However you could still hear the message but soften the thought for your own benefit.
Your Body Has Information For You
Your body is an extension of your brain. It is all connected – you simply cannot have one without the other – and it is communicating with you ALL the time! When you notice you have some unhelpful or unpleasant thinking around a situation, pause a moment and bring your attention to your body. Just ‘listen’ to what it is trying to tell you. What sensations are you experiencing? Get really curious and ask it questions. How do you know you feel that way? What is that feeling trying to tell you? What is it trying to protect you from? What do you need to know? What would help in this moment? Getting curious and feeling in to those sensations can be very revealing and can surface some answers you may not have gotten to by trying to logically work something out.
Focus On The Elements You Can Control
We can’t control everything about a situation. Sometimes we can control very little of it. But there is always some part that we can control or influence. Put your attention on those bits and it will help you to feel like you have some control, which in turn makes us feel safer. For example if you are worrying about business and shutting for Christmas and still keeping your customers happy the bits you are in control of is your opening/working hours, your communication with your customers and managing their expectations, what limits you put in place, what offers you make available (depending if you are trying to push sales or limit them), who you can ask for help, what more information you need to make decisions. Focusing on these elements and getting things in place will make them feel less overwhelming.
Time To Get Practical
We can get so caught up in the stories we are creating in our heads and they can feel so very real and fuel our emotions, but sometimes, we just need to get to the practical bits. Sometimes, a situation is what a situation is and so we need to just get practical. For example, if finances are a concern, no amount of reframing and changing your thinking will change the situation. So get practical and look at your money. Start budgeting. Look at where you can make savings. This is similar to focusing on what you can control or influence but on a much more practical level. Don’t just put your attention there – take action!!! Taking action can reduce the feelings you may have built which created a really overwhelming situation.
Some situations can benefit from both the easing of thoughts – by softening them or moving that thinking switch – and making actual changes by looking at the elements within your control. For example if you have to attend a family event (and you really feel you can’t get out if it) you can ease the thinking around it AND you can focus on the parts you can control. You can choose who you speak with, you can influence the conversations on to neutral topics, you may be able to have a planned exit and so on.
Get Back In The Room
Sometimes it doesn’t matter how much you have worked on your thoughts, paid attention to your body and focussed on practical steps and what you can control. Sometimes, for many reasons, you still find a situation too much. No matter where you are, you always have tools to get yourself to a better mental state.
It is all related – your thinking is causing your feelings – and a wonderful way to quickly get away from that is to get in the present moment. When your mind is in the present, it cannot be in the head creating stories. Here are a few exercises you can do to get you in the present moment.
Of course you have heard this before, but when you are focusing on your breath you are calming your nervous system which will get you to a more regulated state. If you focus on taking a few deep breathes you will have disrupted the thinking patterns and will quickly start to feel calmer.
2. Name your senses
Again this is bringing your attention to your senses, which means you have to be in the present moment. So name 5 things that you can see, 4 things that you can hear, 3 things you can touch, 2 things you can smell and 1 thing you can taste. After this, from a now state of calm, you can decide what your next best course of action is.
3. Body scan
Yep, using your body again to get out of that head! Bring your attention to your left toes. Notice them. What sensations do you have? What you can feel? Your clothes against your skin? What you are standing on? Then bring your attention up your left leg, all the way up your left side of the body and then down the right side, giving attention to all areas and noticing what you notice.
At any time, in any place, you can pause and do any of these exercises and it will put you in a state where you will feel more regulated and more in control.
I hope these suggestions help you to manage and cope with upcoming events and the winter months. If, however, there is something that you are struggling with and you would benefit from some one to one support I have a deep dive package to offer you. My deep dive is a one off, two hour session where we focus on a particular topic. We uncover what is really going on, all those unhelpful thought patterns and create some shifts in perspective to bring some ease to the situation. Or we may create a practical action plan to put things in place. Whatever the topic, after two hours of open exploration, you will guaranteed feel more peace about it afterwards. To find out more get in touch with me now and let’s arrange a time to have a call. Contact me here.
In the meantime I wish you a joyful, peaceful and content few winter months taking exactly what you need. Xxx