For Everything There Is A Season
Many of us have lost touch with the change of seasons and the impact they have on our minds and bodies.
I'm often pointing out to clients who complain of low energy levels and chronic fatigue in winter, that our culture has become vastly alienated from the natural cycles of the seasons. Consequently, many suffer from forcing their bodies to ignore the dictates of their biological rhythms. Gallagher explained this dilemma by observing that the root of winter depression is the lack of sunlight, coupled with the conflict which exists between our internal clock and the clock inflicted upon us by society. Further, Gallagher refers to research which implies that the more a society disregards natural rhythms, the more often cases of SAD will occur. Next, Gallagher points out how urban Alaskans fare much worse than the natives of Alaska during the long dark winter. Gallagher shares that, "...Perhaps most important, Native Alaskans see winter as a time to kick back and have some fun, the oldest and best antidepressant."
My friend, Pam Holmquist, a successful craftswoman and artist, who's resided in Alaska for almost two decades, concurs. Holmquist observes that native Alaskans tend to adjust their life style to accommodate to the change in season, while urban newcomers attempt to maintain their summer schedule. The result: newcomers usually find themselves far more depressed and exhausted by the end of winter than their native neighbors do.
Obviously, for most of the individuals with whom I worked in Maine, choosing to adapt to winter in much the same way as the native Alaskans, is simply not an option. However, there are generally several modifications that can be made in order to more effectively cope with winter. It may be important for such individuals to commit to resting more, and to reduce demands and expectations during the winter months. I often suggest that clients explore what activities may be best suited for them during the changing seasons, and encourage them to honor this knowledge by adjusting their behavior accordingly.
In regard to our responses to the changing of seasons, I wrote the following in my journal some time ago before moving to South Carolina:
"I sit in my office across from a soft-spoken, tanned, young woman who is sadly lamenting the end of summer. I listen as she mourns the loss of long, hot days, bare foot walks along the beach, and the gratification of working in her garden. As she speaks, I notice the bright August sunlight streaming through the window, drawing out the rich amber of her hair. I recall a verse in the Bible that says, "to everything there in a season." I, too, love summer. It's my favorite time of year, and yet I learned years ago to recognize the gifts of autumn and winter.
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Seasons represent the cycles of life and offer the necessary variations required for change and growth by all living creatures. Too many of us have lost touch with our deep connection to them and the effects that the changing rhythms of nature have upon our bodies, our spirits, our emotions, and our state of mind. In the summertime, the rhythm of my life becomes quicker, lighter, and often skips a beat as I go speeding along. I sleep less and generally play more. It's a time when I explore the exteriors of my life to a greater degree - when the absolute beauty of the Maine coast, the music of the loons on Dam Pond, and the awe of a mountain view can effortlessly transport me to a place of gratitude, of thankfulness, of joy. In the winter, my rhythms slow down, and I find myself more often exploring interior regions. It's a time when I reflect more, write letters, make longer entries in my journal, and ponder the other-worldly sounds emanating from the frozen pond. Winter for me is a time for reflection, a time for filling my home with the rich aroma of baking bread, of being soothed by the crackling wood fire, and hypnotized by the falling snow. It involves a gentler, more even tempo and a time for me to restore my soul. While summer represents the vigor of youth, winter symbolizes the strength and wisdom of age. I will always love summer, and yet I will always need winter. For many years, like the young woman before me, I, too, grieved the passing of the summers of my young adulthood, too often looking back with longing and thus failing to fully grasp the gifts offered by the present. I'm reminded now of another lesson - that we all must learn to let go. Just as the trees release their leaves in autumn, we, too, must release at times what we are holding onto in order to embrace what's now before us. Participating fully in this endless cycle of changing seasons provides us with an unfailing testimony that beginnings and endings are always bound together. When confronting one, we are always promised
Staff, H. (2008, November 17). For Everything There Is A Season, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2021, October 16 from https://www.healthyplace.com/alternative-mental-health/sageplace/for-everything-there-is-a-season