When I first moved to Sydney two winters ago, I felt deeply out of sync with the seasons. As a novice gardener I didn’t know what or when to plant. I had wardrobe confusion, trying to guess the right clothes for the weather. This is slowly beginning to change, though the early appearance of “spring” blossoms in depth of winter continues to surprise me.
According to the indigenous calendars each region has six, rather than four, seasons and the timing and characteristics vary widely. Unlike Melbourne, August has it’s own season in Sydney. Tugarah gunya’marra lasts only a month and is characterised by the re-emergence and denouement of various flora and fauna. The weather is traditionally cold and windy but so far this year it’s increasingly warm and settled.
When you become aware of them, there are many rhythms that weave in and out of our lives. The work year has its peaks and troughs. My Melbourne clinic used to begin quietly in January (though this shifted over the decades when the city no longer shut down for the summer holidays), while June is perennially quiet. The Spring Racing Carnival announced the onset of the busy season; three increasingly hectic months right up to the Christmas. My online work has new seasonal rhythms, with the year winding down earlier in December.
The school year is punctuated by terms and assessments. Seven years of tertiary education made me dread October for at least a decade after completing study. The month of hard slog always felt out of step with the fun inherent in spring moving into summer.
Working with your rhythms
Health-wise the equinoxes herald an increase in viruses like colds and ‘flu. While winter, even in the milder parts of Australia, brings a surge in the death rate.
Hayfever tends to cycle twice during spring. The earlier peak when the trees blossom, while the latter comes as grasses release their pollen.
There are many factors that influence the internal and external rhythms that impact our lives. In this final month of the current season it can be useful to take a moment and reflect on the rhythms in your life.
- What are your work, school or social peaks and troughs?
- Thinking back on previous years, when are you most likely to become run down?
- What time of year do you predictably feel most in need of a holiday?
- When do you feel most energised, creative and inspired?
We can’t always change the ebbs and flows in our life but we can predict and prepare for them. For those who find these final months of the year a work or social marathon, August is the perfect time to put some health-protective habits into place.
5 healthy habits to prepare for the busy season
- The shopping/cooking binary. If the fridge is full, you’re more likely to cook wholesome food. Choose a regular day to do your weekly grocery shopping, make a date with a friend to catch up at a weekend market or schedule an online supermarket delivery.
- Early to bed, at least a couple of nights a week. Getting to bed before 10pm in a busy week is a treat, not a punishment. Book a weekly date with yourself for an extra hour’s sleep.
- The perfect season to exercise. While the weather’s not too hot or cold, get a walk, swim or run before or after work, or even at lunchtime.
- Schedule down time. Whether it’s a Sunday morning or weekday evening, sanctioning a regular time each week for solo or family time-out is a refreshing habit. Keeping your diary free of commitments at least once a week, can build resilience for the busy season.
- Take a moment. This is the quickest fix for a busy time. Simply take a moment and observe where you are. My favourite moments are often in nature – stopping to watch leaves fall from a tree, the sun rising or setting, and listening to birdsongs.