At the end of a big project—it’s not actually depression.

At the point of retirement, or even the successful completion of a major chunk of life—finishing a book, winning a big case, seeing your partner through a major ordeal—any endeavor that you threw yourself into whole heartedly, you may describe what you feel as “depressed” or “bored” or “empty.” Your partner or another person close to you may have all kinds of advice for what to do to return to your usual state—full of vitality, engaged with what you’re doing, busy, passionate, and lighthearted.  And while you can go through the motions, something inside of you isn’t quite as connected to your activities as you’d like to be.

This is because the flow of your energy has turned inward.  Instead of pouring out into a project, a job, a relationship, a cause, or whatever rocked you a while back, your energy has gone into hibernation.

Why do I say hibernation?

bearIt’s not unlike what the bear goes through when she enters the cave for the winter.  Not only does she go to sleep, most often she’s pregnant.  Her metabolism slows down as if she’s in a state of suspended life.  All of this is going on because in the dark, away from her favorite haunts, the beehive and the forest lush with juicy berries, she’s waiting for spring.  Then she will emerge from her cave with her newborn cub.  New life is brought forth from this suspended, dark, interior state.

Your psychic energy turns inward to be renewed. 

The symptoms of this:

  • The things you enjoy don’t give you the same bump.
  • New activities don’t draw your attention.
  • You feel sort of lonely, bored, or empty even though things are fine.
  • Nothing seems to capture your interest.
  • Your concentration is a little off.
  • You’re a little irritable for no reason.
  • The people around you aren’t that happy with you.
  • They want the “old” you back again.
  • They offer lots of suggestions about what you should do.

The psyche cuts you off from the outer world, takes away the satisfaction out there so you can renew. The truth is, you’ve entered a period of introversion.  Especially if you are an outgoing, extroverted, or socially active person, this can be a real challenge because you will feel less like yourself than a naturally introverted person does.

Here’s what to do:

  1. Don’t lose hope.
  2. Don’t call yourself depressed.
  3. Do give yourself plenty of free space to noodle around.
  4. Do things that are comfortable.
  5. Don’t be afraid to sleep more, take solo walks, and write down what you feel.
  6. Write down your dreams.
  7. Start a meditation practice, even if it’s only 5 minutes a day.
  8. Do something you liked doing as a child—don’t be afraid to buy crayons or paints or a new bike.

Like the bear, new life is gestating deep down in the cave of your unconscious.  You WILL renew and come back to life with vitality and new energy.  It will come back faster if you don’t rush or force it.Helleborus flower

Last year when it withered, I was going to throw out this helleborus plant, but instead I stuck it in the ground.  It has come back more vivid and more beautiful than before.  Be patient.  This can happen to you.

Contact us at LIFE REINSPIRED because we have all sorts of strategies for renewal. Find out more about our programs and upcoming retreats.

Katherine Olivetti is Co-Founder of Life Reinspired, a reset lab for successful Baby Boomers contemplating a meaningful next chapter of life. She is a practicing Jungian psychoanalyst, family therapist, coach, writer, and editor, training professionals throughout the world.