My November Survival Guide
Welcome to November, my favourite month of the year!!
If you do know me a bit, you have already spotted the irony. Despite my Nordic roots, I'm far from being a November lover.
Dear November, I'm sorry, it's nothing personal! But in the dark, cold, non-stop rainy days I find myself feeling like a different person. Someone sad.
So, if you are stuck in the Northern hemisphere this month just like me, what are we going to do about it?
Here are a few survival tips from me that will not only help you make it through the month but even enjoy it. I know - it sounds like a bit of a long shot, but bear with me, I promise these tips really work.
Do your practice
You wake up in the morning and it's still dark. Even 7.30am feels like an ungodly hour. It's cold and dark, and all you want to do is to hit the snooze button and just sneak right back under the blanket.
Don't. It's literally just a few minutes of discomfort as your eyes don't want to open and you pull on your yoga pants in the dark, but I promise it's worth it.
Don't overthink it: just put something on even if it's inside out, and roll out your mat. Get on your mat and do your practice.
These 10-30 minutes in the morning will change your day: balance the chemicals in your brain, open your body, get you moving and breathing and feeling good about yourself and your day.
You'll move through your day with more calm, clarity and joy. And those few minutes of discomfort at waking up will just make you proud you didn't give in to the magnetic superpowers of the blanket.
Why am I telling you this nonsense?? The LAST thing you want to do is go for a freezing rain walk in the dark!
But before you discard this idea as me being out of my mind, give me a chance.
Getting outside EVERY day of the year is extremely important. And I mean getting outside for more than the minute it takes you to take out the trash. I am talking about actually going for a walk in nature, rain, snow or hail. OK, maybe not hail, unless you are a Dane.
But the point is, being outside will strengthen your immunity and align you with the season, making sure your circadian rhythms are on point and your pineal gland is doing its job well (and you really do want to give your pineal gland some loving care as together with pituitary, these two brain glands are responsible for orchestrating the biochemistry of your whole body). If possible, start and/or end your day with a walk or a light run.
If it doesn't make you feel better, you are welcome to send me a complaint.
Good old HYGGE
Danes are experts on surviving Snowvember. I learned so much during my 5 years in Copenhagen! One of the keywords is 'hygge': cosiness factor involving candles, warmth and friends. It's a feeling of happiness where you celebrate and enjoy the little things in life.
I've been interrogating Danes about hygge for almost a decade now, and my key takeaway is besides being warm, comfortable, well fed and cosy, hygge means being in good company. Yes, friends are therapeutic. Friends make everything better. Friends can even turn November into a lovely month.
A neuroscience nerd in me has to interfere again: studies show that spending time with friends and having a support system of people we care about actually prolongs life, decreases the risk of cardiovascular diseases and makes us feel happier. So go ahead, and take initiative. Make some plans with your friends - not just catching up over the phone but actually meeting them in person (it should involve hugging as it's proven to be therapeutic too!), cooking a meal and having quality time together. Your body chemistry and your mood (and possibly your friends, too) will thank you for it.
What I learned in Iceland, or the Power of Creativity
First of all, a disclaimer: I love Iceland. Iceland, you're one of my dear homes and I enjoy coming back to you every time.
But Iceland, you're a challenging place to live, and you know it!
If you have ever been to Iceland, you've experienced that this piece of land in the middle of North Atlantic is totally exposed to freezing winds that make you feel cold in your bones. And generally speaking, the weather is not something Iceland should be proud of.
But this means that if Icelandars have survived up North for so many generations, they have learned something that helps them adapt to their demanding (and dark) environment.
What is it?
Icelanders say it's a combination of two things. Friends that we just covered (Icelanders are statistically the best in the world at making friends and cooperating with each other. But seriously, do they have a choice?). But there is another thing that helps them survive: creativity.
Icelanders are infinitely creative: from creating gorgeous babies (let's talk about that in more detail soon), to epic sweaters to some of the most magnificent and magical music in the world.
They figured that if they are to stay indoors more than other nationalities do due to unfriendly weather, they might as well do something good with the indoor "confinement". So creativity became their strategy of choice to cope with darkness and cold, and the creative efforts of a nation of mere 300.000 individuals have enriched the world.
Of course, I had to test this approach on my own skin, so I traveled to iceland to write and record my last album. So it's "made in Iceland" in every way! As a part of this process, I even had to put up with an insane storm that tried to prevent me from getting to the recording studio on one of the days. That day I had to record music in clothes soaked by the storm! When you listen closely to these music pieces, you can actually hear howling winds just outside the studio. Have you already heard this music?
So the point is: get creative. Whatever it means to you: whether it's creating a game plan for your business for 2020, dancing your heart out with the sole purpose of dancing, writing your masterpiece of a novel or picking up your instrument. Creativity comes in many shapes and forms, so pick the one that speaks to you.
Remember your WHY
I know you didn't see it coming, but I'm going to quote some Friedrich Nietzsche. He's amazing by the way.
“He who has a why to live for can bear almost any how.”
Does this resonate?
What is your "WHY"? What is the force that drives you, gives you a sense of meaning, a feeling of purpose, gets you out of bed in the morning? What moves you, propels you forward? What will you think about on your deathbed knowing it made your life worth living?
And this is my biggest, richest, most philosophical and yet most hands-on tip for surviving this November, and generally all the difficult times in your life. "He who has a why to live for can bear almost any how".
This is also my "mantra" that keeps me going right now as I'm creating a meditation course for you that has been keeping me busy for months. Thinking of how it will serve you and help you establish your daily practice keeps me going, making long days in the studio and in front of my computer worth it.
I want you to find your why.
I urge you to get clear about it. Think about it, write it down, re-visit it often.
Getting clear about what really matters to you might even mean that you decide to change your priorities in life at one point or even quit what you conclude is a waste of your life. But believe me, all of the above are steps in the right direction. You only have one life, so live it like you mean it.
ps. my secret tip number 6 is escaping! While this November I'm only teaching in Zurich, you can already plan your 2020 yoga escape with me. A new retreat date in the Swiss Alps has just been announced, and Norway and Greece retreats in 2020 are both almost full. Book your spot early!