Short and dark days. Nothing new – especially not for us who lives in the northernmost part of the northern hemisphere. Still, at least for me, the sucky side effects that sometimes comes with these dark days always seem to hit equally hard each year.
According to an international study from 2000, published in the Swedish National Encyclopedia, almost half the Swedish population feel out of sorts at this time of the year. And like that wasn’t enough - 7% of the population feel so tired that they find it a struggle meeting other people.
When Cornelius Tacitus travelled through northern Europe around year zero, he learned that the indigenous people very often often gathered around a fire to take it easy and unwind during the winter. Cornelius thought this was, well, the only reasonable way of living at this time of year and had great understanding for their way of living.
When it comes to controlling our biological clock, light is the most fundamental element. As it gets darker during the days, we also get less of the chemicals that keeps us awake. So, as it gets darker, our bodies crave a slower tempo and slower way of living. Still, in our fast-paced society, we work and act the same during these dark months like we do when the days are long and filled with hours of light.
This year I've made myself (and been blessed with) the opportunity to fully adapt to the process of unwinding which has made it so much easier for me to cope with the ridiculous amount of daylight we are given. I've also made an effort to begin a life of slow living, which is a pretty darn exciting process.
I thought I’d share a couple of my best slow-down habits this far, simple things to do that doesn’t cost you anything but well-deserved You-time. I hope you can adapt some of these into your daily routine, and that they will make you feel more well and alive.
Listen to music
Take a break, sit down and let your body rest as you listen to your favourite songs. You know, like they do in Downton Abbey except you can wear your PJ’s and not give a care while doing it.
Eat with gusto
Eat without multitasking, like – without your phone, laptop, iPad or whatever you are used to use or do while eating your food. I love to eat my breakfast while reading a book, so I try to “eat with gusto” at least during lunch or dinner.
Read in the morning or before going to bed
It's just such a great & gentle way to awaken the brain in the morning or slowing it down before bedtime.
Don’t do things that triggers your genius of a brain after dinner
If you're anything like me, I would recommend you to not do anything that triggers your brain after dinner. Well, you don't have to abstain from everything, but things like beginning new projects, reading books that require you to take notes or make you want to start making changes righ away and well, work in general. If I do these things, chances are big that I stay up late...way too late. I'd rather wake up early feeling somewhat awake and have all my work done by lunch.
Schedule Social Hour
Inspired by my friend Sasha Holloway, I schedule a so called "Social Hour" where I try to fit all things that has to do with social media and e-mail. This has been such a great way for me to stop checking Instagram, Facebook and Gmail every five minutes. It might be a struggle in the beginning, but believe me,the time gained to spend on the offline (real) life is worth it.
I never use my computer during weekends unless something urgent has come up or there's a new episode of Grimm that has to be seen. I don't use social media either, so during the weekends, and sometimes after dinner during the weeks, I put my laptop and iPhone in a (really pretty) basket in my hallway. Another great thing to try is turning your phone off for a whole day. If you're afraid someone might need you, call them in advance and tell them you're turning your phone off this weekend. People survived before the phone was invented. You can do it too.
Did you know that meditation is pretty much just another word for single-tasking? There are so many benefits of single-tasking and lowered stress levels, being fully aware od the moment and better performance are only three of them. Bake bread. Dance a dance. Do the dishes. Read a book while waiting for the laundry. Make a handwritten letter. Do what you gotta do, just remember that wherever you are - be there.
Here's to meaning over mania, and relationships over rushing!
Ps. Do you find any of these useful? What helps you? As usual I'd love to hear your thoughts! <3