Living through the seasons is what all our ancestors used to do. Depending on the weather, the food available would change and their activities would change as well. With most people living in cities and having a somewhat stable routine throughout the year, following the seasons is not common anymore, other than changing your wardrobe and turning on or off your heating and cooling systems. But, there are benefits to following the seasonal changes as they come even if you live a traditional 21st century lifestyle.
I live in the South of the UK where we have 4 very distinct seasons. When I talk about summer, autumn, winter and spring, I am mostly referring to those as they exist here. But that doesn’t mean that what I am writing about here can’t be applied to other places with hotter or warmer weather, as long as you adapt things to your particular climate and the specific rhythms that come from it.
Benefits of living through the seasons
Besides the obvious benefit of feeling more connected to nature, there are other good things that come from living a life based on seasonality.
Our physical needs change with the seasons, and following those needs help us improve our wellbeing. Not only in the physical sense as we give our body what it needs, but also in the mental sense as we allow ourselves to respect our desires instead of fighting against them. This also leads to developing a higher sense of self-awareness and self-acceptance.
One of the trickiest parts of living seasonally is dealing with the changes that happen and that are outside our control. As humans, we’ve grown used to managing nature to suit our wishes, rather than adapting our behaviour to the natural changes as they occur.
Accepting change doesn’t come easy. And that’s ok, if we feel safe and comfortable, it’s normal to want things to stay the same. However, that’s not how life usually goes. So learning to accept regular changes like those that come from the seasons, can help us accept other changes in our lives.
In Spring nature wakes up, and we wake up with it. This is the time of the year when we start eating lighter meals, we shed off the heavier layers of clothing, and we feel like spending more time outside enjoying the warmer milder weather.
Spring is a transitional period for nature, and as such we should transition with it. It’s not uncommon for people to have a ‘spring cleaning’ session at the start of the season to help them get ready for the new things to come. It should be no surprise either that many religions have celebrations of rebirth and new beginnings during this time, and that many couples chose to get married during spring.
Behaviours to help you get in tune with spring are starting to open windows and doors to allow the fresh air in the house, going out for lunch to a local nature spot, starting to eat fresh greens, cleaning and tidying your surroundings, changing your clothes to lighter fabrics, and bringing some flowers into your space. If you are interested in gardening or want to grow your own plants, spring is the perfect time to get started.
Traditionally spring is associated with pastel colours, flowers, and baby animals like lambs, chicks, and bunnies. Today we can see all of these in secular celebrations of Easter.
Summer is the hottest season of the year, the time when fruits ripen and young animals start experiencing life as adults. In summer we usually spend a lot of time outdoors, with friends and family, having fun and relaxing.
Summer is usually associated with friendship and family, celebrations of our accomplishments, and energy. When it comes to religions, the heat of the sun is often translated into festivities related to fire and bonfires.
Some activities that can help you get into the spirit of summer are sharing food with your loved ones, practising sports out in nature like hiking and wild swimming, eating light fresh meals and drinking more water, enjoying seasonal fruits, foraging, and looking back at your previous year to acknowledge all the changes you’ve been through and all your achievements.
Colours that are often linked to summer are bright greens, yellow, gold, bright orange, and hot pinks. When it comes to natural elements, animals like bees, frogs, and fireflies; as well as flowers like sunflowers, daisies, lavender, and wildflowers in general are all seen as representing summer.
Autumn, or fall, is another time of transition when we start to slow down in preparation for winter. Days are getting shorter and shorter, and the weather is starting to cool down. Animals gather food to keep them going through the cold months and make sure they have safe spaces to winter in.
Harvest takes place in autumn, when all the work of the previous seasons can finally be seen (and tasted!). Many religions give offerings during this time, some by supporting their churches and temples with economic donations and others by donating food to those who need extra support.
The autumnal season is often associated with pumpkins, apples, rosehips, and warm drinks. When it comes to colours darker and more muted shades of yellow, orange, red, and brown are all popular. It’s probably no surprise that autumn is considered by most people to be their favourite season. The colours, textures, and smells we relate to autumn all have a nice level of cosiness that we all welcome after a hot sweaty summer.
Some ways to slowly adapt to the changes of autumn and bring that cosiness into our lives are to start wearing more layers of clothing, gradually start adding warmer and heavier foods to your diet, stock up on products from the harvest, make jams and preserves with the last fruits of the warmer season, and to start making plans for the upcoming year.
During winter nature slows down, most plants have lost their leaves to help them save energy and animals are either spending a lot of time in their shelters or going into hibernation.
This is the perfect time to slow down, spending time alone and with those important to us, and devoting our energy to indoor activities and hobbies, or to just relax with a warm drink and a good book.
In winter, seasonal affective disorder and loneliness affect a lot of people, if you suffer from either do look for help from professionals. Winter is usually a time of celebration, when many religions have their most important festivals and people get together to share food and warmth, and you should be able to be a part of that joy. Winter is also a great time to start self-care practices like journaling, meditation, and becoming more self-aware of our feelings and needs.
Typical colours connected to winter are often dark. If you find these too gloomy, you can always focus on the deep forest greens and bright reds from the evergreens that stay around during the cold weather.