Updated: Apr 13, 2019
The blooming of spring is especially lovely this time of year as early season rains have produced some of the most vibrant color we've seen in a long time. The mountains are a deep green, the bright orange California poppies grace the hillsides and our yards are bursting and budding with the anticipation of the newness of life. How remarkable that this beauty comes naturally, without stress or fret and yet gifts us with it's majesty and awes us with it's serenity.
It seems so effortless for nature to grace us with it's beauty but it too had to endure a season of rain, cold, wind and days without sun to come out triumphant and bring us it's glory.
The silence, the color-less days, the rain had it's purpose. In fact, it was necessary. The days without sun, the chill, the quietness under the earth was a requirement for the majestic bloom-to-be.
Nature is a wonderful example for us to follow as many times we find ourselves in a place of desolation. We wake up in a season of rain, without color and we wonder when the sun will come out. Further, we wonder what this times will produce, if anything. Nature reminds us that our bloom is ahead and this season will produce beauty in our lives.
What can we do to better get through the dark season in anticipation for our bloom?
1. Be specific in telling others what we need: The very act of connecting with someone and letting them know how they can meet a practical need is itself a comfort and a support. People are in your life for a reason, take them up on their offers to help. Connect with your support system.
2. Go for a walk: Keeping mobile and being outside in nature fills us and calms the nervous system.
3. Schedule time to rest: Keeping ourselves too busy for the sake of distraction can overstimulate us and add to the stress. Keep things simple and allow yourself time to slow down.
4. Volunteer: Keeping our eyes on others and helping to meet their needs is a beautiful way to feel useful and empowered. This also places our attention outward and relieves us from the exhaustion of self focus.
5. Keep a Personal Journal: Expressing your thoughts through writing can bring perspective, bring insight and keep you reflective. This causes you to pause and look deeper and find possible unseen treasures and meaning.
6. Pursue the Spiritual: Going deeper in our faith/spiritual beliefs can reorganize and deepen our sense of meaning. Reaching towards God during dark seasons lifts our attention to a more existential focus instead of a narrow one.
7. Connect with others: This decreases the tendency for isolation that we naturally move toward when feeling overwhelmed or in a dark place. Connection with others is necessary as we borrow their energy when ours is low.
8. Set Limits: Although connections with others is necessary, so is boundary setting. Too much over commitment/over-stimulation can overwhelm our senses and further deplete our energy. When in a place of challenge, pick what is most important and either delegate responsibilities or don't take on new ventures unless ready to do so. It's ok to let people know it's not a good time to take on more.
9. Don't compare yourself to others: This is a sure fire way to grow more disappointed. Everyone is in a different part of the journey through their season. You may be a step ahead or a step behind so don't think you should be in some other stage by now. Each step is necessary to bring to life what is to come and our individual journey is unique.
10. Set small, attainable goals: Don't put too much on your plate. Set goals you can reach without great effort or stress. Prioritize what you absolutely need to accomplish and determine what can wait.
11. Reach out to others who have been there: By this connection you get hope for getting through the season and what it looks like on the other side (from someone who's been there.) These fellow travelers are vital to support you and share specific tools that can bring aid on the journey. They know what it's like to walk in your shoes.
12. Trust your instincts: Your impressions are usually right. Don't ignore them. If you are feeling a tug not to act on a certain action, don't. If you feel compelled to take some action, listen to that too. At times turning in and listening is better than the confusion and chatter of many.
13. Confide in a trusted companion: Who gets you? It's important to feel comfortable being yourself with those who know you well or support you effectively. If your confidant is a trusted friend, therapist, sponsor or clergy, reach out and be real with them. Being transparent lifts you and brings the freedom only connection can bring.
14. Practice Mindfulness: Go out into nature and just observe something. It can be the moon on a clear night, a flower in a field or a bird sitting on a branch. Be fully present, aware of where you are and what you're seeing. Just notice the details, study the object and its intricacies. If your thoughts wander just bring them gently back and go back to the details of your focus. When we practice mindfulness, we reduce stress, let go of judgement and give our nervous system a much needed break.
15. Limit your screen time: Especially in the evening hours. The brain needs time to unwind and any screen (TV, iPhone, iPad etc) stimulates it and doesn't give the message to turn off and sleep. In general, screen time overwhelms the nervous system with stimuli so monitor how much time you spend in front of it.
Keeping these tips in mind through a winter season will help you emerge triumphant and ready to burst with bloom and beauty in the spring!