Human Hibernation

I have been shivering through what is colder than a Melbourne Winter - A Yarra Valley Winter. Early morning temperatures often drop to freezing point. It seems severe this year. I have instinctively kept myself inside, starved for daylight, but unable to face the cold. Aside from the occasional sunny 'energy' day, I have surrendered to the retreating energy of winter, into human hibernation.

We Are Not Machines

Human beings are subject to various natural rhythms from nature outside, as well as our nature inside. Cycles of rest and renewal energise and deflate us in a self balancing dance of creation. This is why we won't work continuously like machines. We need rest, sleep, nutrition and self-reflection. To resist these natural functions invites imbalances that can lead to illness.


Often I have planned out weeks of predicted perfect workflow. I would list activities in my diary, spaced out evenly across the week, complete with boxes to tick when complete. These activities would provide balance, structure and most of all productivity. Week after week I would fail to stick to my perfect plan due to my imperfect human nature. I would ignore my lists for days on end as I made biscuits, phone calls, watched sit-coms, Star Trek and read novels. Sometimes it was because I was struggling with something, but more often than not I simply couldn't get focussed on my tasks.

The Reality

The reality is that my diary might seem almost blank for a couple of weeks. Or there might be a task listed day after day but not completed. It appears as though nothing is happening and at times I may worry at my lack of progress. Then, often without warning, the energy changes. I know it when I wake up. Hibernation is over, for now. I might then write a single long list for the week and usually complete it. Extra goals are usually added as I power through them easily. Things that perturbed me the previous week suddenly become clear. A new piece of information may come to light that helps me move forward. Occasionally, with a little hindsight, I can see exactly why I needed a little rest; Some time in the hibernation cave, under the doona, on the couch or in the kitchen. 

Be Kind

Forcing myself to work when I'm in hibernation mode is usually a waste of energy. Whatever I attempt is usually repeated to a better standard when my energy shifts. I might be able to perform small administrative or domestic tasks, but more complex tasks flow better and faster when I'm properly prepared. I have experienced enough hibernation periods now to realise that they are always temporary. Winter's deep freeze can make me seem as lazy as a bear, but the sun will come out and move me again. I am learning to be kinder to myself as I fall into hibernation. I usually go down kicking as I have some major goals in sight at the moment and I kind of resent the delay. But part of the point of what I do is to encourage people to be kind to themselves and each other; Understanding the seasons of life, of rest and renewal in each other. 

So next time you find yourself feeling unable to face your 'to-do' list, consider the possibility that it won't be forever. You might be having a human hibernation day.  

Leanne Margaret © 2017


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