The season is changing. There’s a drop in temperature; a new edge on the air that catches before the sun rises, and when the clouds are down. The sun is doing its early sinking, liminal lingering thing. It seems to say ‘I’m leaving.’
The nights are drawing in, and the mornings reluctant to break. A shift. One that might not be noticed from a life indoors, perhaps too subtle to notice from within a city’s walls. As a nation we are statistically spending more time outside. Or, at least we were, when that was our respite from a year of the same four walls. We had a year that, whilst distinctly more digital, was also much more ‘natural.’
As our lives become cluttered once more, with the fluorescence of the office, the busyness of work, the chaos of pubs and parties, and the mountain of unscalable chores alongside it all, we drift away from nature - both the planet’s and our own. Many of us sank into our own, long forgotten rhythms during lockdown when we had few other distractions, to the point where now, organising ourselves to leave the house and take public transport to be somewhere on time is a daunting, stressful, and at times unachievable task. Others, such as key workers, may have been so fraught that they’ve never been further from their own rhythm, and by contrast may now struggle - to let go of extra responsibilities, to calm down their hyper-alert state, or to leave work at the door - to the point where quiet and stillness feel empty, uncomfortable, or even anxiety provoking.
The reality may not be so simple. Nature makes itself known more starkly near the season’s change, and it always has messages for us to learn from. If I went away and left a plant cooped up in a greenhouse for a long period of time, without sufficient air circulation, adequate hydration, or suitable temperature, when I return and suddenly afford it these things it needs and is used to, it doesn’t just spring back to life as if I’d been giving it these things all along. I’d have to tend to it, take away dead leaves, change it’s position, gently reintroduce water rather than flooding it, and with some plants I’d have to make these changes very slowly. There is no chance it would produce fruit though, if it hadn’t been exposed to pollinators; I would have to be patient for that and wait another year. It’s important not to lose sight of the huge restrictions, changes, and deprivations we have all been through over the last 18 months, and to go gently with ourselves as we adjust to having access to everything ‘normal’ again. It can take time.
For the last 5 years, since I returned to nature from years in a big city, I keep commenting on how the seasons seem to have shifted. They are nothing like how I remember them as a child. Nature is confused too. Some years bats have emerged in March with the rising temperatures, only to risk death by starvation as snow and frosts in April severely limit the availability of food. Some years, bats haven’t hibernated at all. Migration times are changing too, and this year the sloes have been ripe for picking in August! The seasons seem all over the place, no doubt directly linked to climate change. Wildlife seems confused. It seems this echoes where many of us are also; all over the place, confused, unbalanced, and tired.
But it is there. As subtle as it may be, I see and hear about it in myself and the people around me; being easily tired, overwhelm at ‘normal things,’ shrunken comfort zones, low confidence; this list is by no means exhaustive! So if you have a similar experience, and feel the pressure to put on a brave face whilst you’re finding it really difficult some or all of the time, you are not alone. It’s ok to be wobbly, unbalanced, confused, and tired. It’s definitely ok to put yourself first and take the steps you need to look after yourself, and to give it time.
Traditionally, as schools in England return this week, Harvest Festival is celebrated, where we see and enjoy the crops reaped from efforts earlier in the year, and share the bounty and any excess with those less fortunate. We may not have been able to invest in our own lives this year in the same way as previous years, so we may feel as though there is less to reap and celebrate, and perhaps even less to share with others. We may not have been able to save for and then enjoy a holiday, due to restrictions, working overtime, furlough or unemployment. We may not have been able to see and spend time with those we love and have photos and memories of these times to mull over. We may not have started new projects. There has been so much loss. And with a government and media emphasis on restrictions, barriers, dangers, and problems, we may have assimilated this approach into our mindset; seeing barriers before opportunities, focusing on loss rather than gain, and/or becoming risk averse. I invite you to challenge this negative bias by spending a moment finding a few things you can be grateful for, and a few successes you have had over the last 18 months - there is an exercise on this below.
*FOMO stands for ‘fear of missing out.’ The phrase/acronym was coined around 2004, and was probably timely with the rise of smartphones and social media, giving rise later to online targeted advertising and the bombardment of events, suggestions, evidence of others’ fun, and endless ‘opportunities’ we filter through on our phones on a daily basis today.
Gratitude & Achievements Practices
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Author - Zoe Copeland, MFHT
With a background in education, sports coaching and mental health, Zoe began to explore more holistic avenues of helping people with a particular focus on where the mind and body meet. Zoe began her bodywork training in Sports Massage and has since studied other massage theories and techniques, as well as Reiki, to provide a holistic approach to each treatment. With specific training in women's health, trauma and scars, she has developed an intuitive practice which leaves you feeling a positive change in your body and mind after every appointment.