November is not an easy month. It is a time of gathering darkness and bracing for the cold starkness of winter. For reflection, and grieving of people, places and parts of our lives we have lost and left behind. Of feeling tired and out of sorts, physically depleted and more susceptible to illness. It is easy to fall into the habit of resenting this time time of year. Slogging through or wishing the time away while daydreaming of spending the month on a tropical island somewhere. Life is too short for that.
Here are simple tips for leaning into rather than enduring November:
Curl up with your inner grizzly. If the demands of the season have you feeling overwhelmed, keep in mind that we humans are essentially hairless bears. Fighting the urge to slow down when the days get shorter and colder makes us irritable and vulnerable to illness and depression. Modern life may not lend itself to hibernation, but are there ways to retreat. Get cozy and sleep a little longer, nap when you can. Lower your expectations and trust that energy and productivity will return when the days start to lengthen.
LIsten to your body. Notice when you are feeling run down and take action. Decide whether your immune system needs a little TLC or some radical self-care, Letting someone who cares know that you are not okay is taking action. So is taking time off work or booking a holiday or a massage. Or asking for help.
Remember your lineage. Observe All Soul’s Day, the Day of the Dead or Remembrance Day as opportunities to explore family history. Ask about your uncle who served in the war. Go through old family photos. Listen to the music that your parents and grandparents grooved to. Visit a cemetery and honour the dead.
Spend time in nature, The landscape may look gray and bleak but there is a stark beauty to November. Bundle up and get outside when you can. Turn your face towards the sun. Breathe deeply.
Revitalize your hobbies. You may lack the energy and the motivation to make decisions or plunge into a project, but November is a great time to contemplate setting into motion activities that will make the winter months more enjoyable. Order that book, look into a class, or do a quick inventory of your craft materials so that you will have what you need later.
Connect with memories. Without ruminating, take stock of your life. Are there people you want to make more time for? Relationships that need tending or mending? Unprocessed grief that wants expression? Trauma or drama that you’d prefer not to carry into the new year? Joyful memories of vacations and events that you want to make sure to keep alive?
November is challenging, but when experienced consciously serves an important purpose. November forces us to slow down, reflect, and make meaning of the past, clearing the way for fully experiencing the holidays and the year ahead.
Please remember to stay cozy, think like a bear, and listen to your body.