How To Survive The Winter
With the Winter Solstice nearly upon us, it’s hard not to notice how short the days are here in the Northern hemisphere right now. I’ve barely picked the kids up from school and it seems the sky has darkened, the temperature has dropped and we’re hurrying home to be indoors with the heating cranked up trying to keep warm and cosy with blankets and hot chocolates.
The 21st December marks Winter Solstice, the shortest and the darkest day of the year and traditionally an opportunity to turn inward, reflect and rest as Mother Nature intended. For people throughout the ages—from the ancient Egyptians to the Celts, midwinter has been a significant time of ritual, reflection, and renewal. Tradition tells us that Winter should be a time to think about the year that has passed, our achievements, our challenges and what we want for the new year ahead.
Yet modern culture offers us a distinct contradiction to this natural pull to turn inwards. Most of us are on a countdown to Christmas frenzy as we battle the hordes of Christmas shoppers on the high street and our lives become a cycle of over-spending, over-working and over-indulging at festive events ….not to mention the travel chaos brought on by planes, trains and roads as we rush to be with family and friends for the festive period. So by the time the Big Day arrives many of us are EXHAUSTED! Weeks of overloading our senses with lights, alcohol, consumerism, social interaction and stressful travel is bound to take a toll on mind and body, not to mention our bank balances.
For many the midwinter solstice is a turning point, a chance to embrace a different perspective. Just looking at nature can help us to better understand why we should embrace the dark evenings. It’s no wonder that animals burrow deeper and turn to hibernation during the winter months. If this translates as embracing the dark and resting our tired minds and heavy bodies then surely we should be doing more of this? Instead we succumb to the pressures of the festive season and fight the urge to listen to what our body is telling us.
Believe it or not, the winter solstice may affect a lot of things in your life, including your mood and your sleep schedule. Some people struggle so much with the arrival of the winter solstice that they can be diagnosed with Seasonal Affective Disorder – I wrote about this recently here.
So what can we do? We can be kind to ourselves and slow down. A little bit of self-care such as deep breathing, meditation, leisurely walks, and yoga — can help boost your serotonin levels, and as a result, your mood and overall well-being. Though the research isn't definitive, it’s been reported that the number of migraine cases seems to notably increase during the winter months. The swift change in temperature can lead to changes in the body that result in tension headaches — the ones where it feels like there's a really tight band wrapped around your head.
A warm candlelit bath or investing in calming essential oils such as Lavender or rosemary to soothe a relentless headache. I always seem to have the most restful night’s sleep when I burn my lavender candle and I often add a few drops into my bath water along with Rose Geranium if I’m feeling a bit low in energy.
Our winters over here can feel long and never ending at times but with a few little luxuries like candlelit baths and warming our toes by an open fire, we can survive this. There is light at the end of the tunnel and before long we'll be welcoming the buds on the trees and the birds singing their dawn chorus. And like the seeds planted in the earth we should start to feel renewed energy because just around the corner is the New Year bringing with it new beginnings .