The Restlessness of Winter Blues

The restlessness of winter blues is real. Wintering is a season in the cold, says author Katherine May


Cover of book "wintering" by Katherine May


"It is a fallow period in life when you're cut off from the world, feeling rejected, sidelined, blocked from progress, or cast into the role of outsider...however it arrives, wintering is usually involuntary, lonely, and deeply painful."

For us who are living in these times, the pain of wintering has arrived through a global pandemic. Add to this the other losses of life (jobs, community, relationships, and much more) and it's enough to send us running for cover.

In this season of severe change and tumult, I've been reading, resting, and retreating more. And Katherine May's book Wintering has been one of my companions.

I didn't have a name for what we, as a collective, are going through, but this is such an evocative word: Wintering.

May goes on to explain that the world struggles with this idea.

"We're not raised to recognize wintering or to acknowledge its inevitability. Instead, we tend to see it as a humiliation, something that should be hidden from view lest we shock the world too greatly. We put on a brave public face and grieve privately; we pretend not to see other people's pain ... yet we do this at great cost. Wintering brings about some of the most profound and insightful moments of our human experience, and wisdom resides in those who have wintered."

Our culture has taught us and continues to reward us for some of the lies we live.

  • The more you do, the more value you have.
  • The more you accomplish, the more worthy you are.
  • If you're not in constant motion, you're lazy.
  • The more you can get done, the more productive you are.


We are human beings who don't know how to BE.

Nature is wintering right now. She's in a deep slumber, having surrendered to the natural rhythms of the universe. In her state of dormancy, she's gathering. She's alive, even as she's asleep. When it's her time to awaken, she will have the renewed and restorative energy to create.

Yet, here we are with a go-go-go energy because it's January, a new year, a new beginning. We're diving into resolutions and plans. We're trying to create before we've gathered.

Rest, renew, restore.

  1. Flow according to your body's natural rhythms.
  2. Move your body to juice up your joints.
  3. Sleep in, take naps, close your eyes and take 3 deep breaths several times a day.
  4. Light candles, sit at your altar, make one if you don't have one.
  5. Choose a book and read it s-l-o-w-l-y. Savor the words.
  6. Take long, hot baths.
  7. Prepare nourishing meals that feed your soul.
  8. Curl up, cozy up, get comfortable with fuzzy socks and shawls.


Here are some prompts for you to reflect on:

  1. How can I care for myself?
  2. Where in my life do I need to stop pushing and forcing?
  3. What will help me slow down and trust?


Wintering isn't forever. It's a season. Spring will come. It always does. When you've wintered well, you'll be ready to meet the energy of spring with buoyancy and vitality.


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