Happy Winter Solstice or whichever ‘holiday’ you prefer to celebrate to mark this festive time of year :-).
I won’t go into details about what I believe or don’t believe, and where I stand on religion and the great Christmas religion vs secular debate. I believe that spirituality is very personal and that every person has the right to express it in whichever method feeds their own soul – as long as it does no harm to other living things.
But, I am going to invite you to join me on The Longest Night, as I follow the example of the natural world and take some time to rejuvenate my soul.
In the Northern Hemisphere, Winter Solstice occurs in December (usually around the 21st, but it depends on which time zone you live in). It’s the moment when the North Pole is the furthest away from the sun, resulting in a longer period of darkness or The Longest Night. In Canada, in 2017, Winter Solstice occurs on December 21st.
BEAUTY & PROMISE DESPITE GRAY CLOUDS
Despite the days when the steel gray skies won’t even let one ray of sunshine through and the ever present threat of endless rain, I like this time of year. I like the festive air, as one faith after another celebrates their own version of the end of one season and the beginning of another.
I delight in the beautiful lights sparkling amongst the needles on the evergreen trees. And I relish the beauty of the lights winding their way around the barren trees.
Some of the gaudier displays of holiday cheer make me cringe. The randomly strewn and mismatched lights paired with yards crammed with decorations make it hard to know where to look. But, I still stop. I pull our ugly old red minivan over, so that my kids have time to check it out. They point and talk over top of each other in their excitement to show me their favorite things.
Even though the decorations seem too much to me, I can appreciate the joy that went into creating the scene. It doesn’t matter how unpalatable to my own eye it may be, it’s an expression of the season. And I love the joy of this season.
And I especially love Winter Solstice. Not only is it the moment that autumn gives way to winter, but it’s also the moment when night is at its very longest and the days are on the cusp of lengthening. It feels like a time of promise to me.
If we use Winter Solstice as a reminder. If we take a moment to tune into what Mother Nature is up to. We can see that it’s the perfect time to rest, take care of ourselves and start to dream about all the possibilities of the upcoming year. It’s the perfect time to fantasize about what you’d like to achieve and prepare yourself for your next adventure.
In our world of constant activity, it’s easy to get worn down and burned out. Our society is full of people who are dragging themselves through each day completely drained – most of them not even remembering why they’re even doing it in the first place or how they got there.
Taking a moment, to check in with the changing of the seasons and letting that guide our behaviour is a simple strategy for cultivating energy and productivity. As busy humans, we can take a lesson from the trees, flowers and the wild critters who know that by taking a rest in the winter, when it’s dark and the weather is harsh, energy can be restored for when it’s time to bloom come spring.
TUNING INTO THE SEASONS
It isn’t just all the green and furry things that know how to hole up and recoup their energy when the world is at its darkest and coldest. Our predecessors would’ve hunkered down as winter spread across the land. For them, it might have been out of necessity (you know due to the lack of electric lighting and our heating technologies, not to mention high-tech clothing that keeps us toasty), but it also allowed for families to come together and prep for the year to come.
It gave them a chance to rest and prepare for all the work that they needed to do in the warm months to ensure their survival from year to year.
Most of us don’t have such a perilous relationship with the seasons. We don’t have to work as hard as we can while the weather is good to ensure that we have enough food to last through winter. But, that doesn’t mean we can’t learn something from our ancestors, and their focus on family – especially during the seasons of darkness.
Many amongst us could use some more family time (or for those of us who live far away from our family our friends that are like family), and this time of year is perfect for that.
So gather your family, wrap up in your favourite blanket (mine is an afghan crocheted especially for me by my mom), and sip some hot chocolate (we’ll ignore the sugar this one time 😉 ) and restore your tired soul.
5 Winter Solstice Energy-Restoring Strategies:
Get more sleep
We all know sleep is critical. We constantly receive messages that in our busyness we ignore – to the detriment of our health. But our minds need to sleep to function and our bodies need sleep to heal and regenerate. When we don’t get enough rest, we run the risk of damaging our bodies to the point that they begin to fail us.If you don’t take time to rest, at some point your body will force you to. Potentially through a debilitating chronic illness. Click To Tweet
In our fast-paced, constantly on the go, world sleep is often put on the back burner. But, The Winter Solstice has the longest night of the year. What better time is there to work on putting down our electronic devices and going to bed early?
Along with The Winter Solstice comes a plethora of holidays and their associated activities. If you’re not careful, by the end of November, your calendar will be chocked full of extra events. Between work parties, shows at our children’s schools, parades and other fun holiday activities, not to mention all of our regular responsibilities there’s no end to the claims on our time.
These demands can really take their toll. Pick carefully. You don’t have to attend every party. Your holiday traditions don’t have to be fancy and energy draining.
There’s nothing wrong with nesting at home and foregoing some of the holiday activities and maybe even a few of the regular activities we let eat away at our down time.
Eat Hearty and Healthy
When we’re time crunched our eating habits tend to quickly go from bad to worse. Instead of succumbing to a season of poor eating, nourish your body with hearty soups and stews. Not only is their warmth comforting when the thermometer dips low and the weather is foul, but chocked full of hearty root vegetables, they’re also nourishing. If you make them from bone broth, they’ll be just brimming with nutrients.Feed your body and your soul. Click To Tweet
Gather family and friends
Our world is crowded full of people, but at the same time so many of us feel lonely and isolated. The Winter Solstice, when the world is at its darkest, is a symbolically perfect time to gather your family and friends and combat the isolation of our modern lives.
Far in our past, our ancestors would’ve all gathered together to ride out the darkness of The Longest Night together. Take a page from their notebook and celebrate the season with the ones you love. Click To Tweet It’s good for your well-being.
When life turns into a daily grind – whether it’s a grind we enjoy or not – it’s easy to forget the importance of dreams. But, in my opinion, dreams are crucial to our mental well-being. They’re how our souls talk to us. they’re how they remind us of the things we’d like to experience or accomplish. They don’t have to be grand dreams; they just have to be ours.
So, while you’ve got yourself nestled away, take the time to let your mind wander. Let your mind be free to explore all the possibilities for the next year. Don’t wait until all the hype of New Year and its resolutions. Figure out what makes your heart sing. Figure out what makes your soul rejoice. Then dream of them becoming reality. Click To Tweet
Our dreams never have to go any further than fantasies that we fall asleep to at night. But, they can also become so much more. They can become the energy that propels us forward towards a better version of ourselves.
THE LONGEST NIGHT
Remember, as you push yourself to keep pace with our busy world, that our energy is finite. It needs to be regenerated.
I’m going to use the occasion of The Longest Night to remind myself that my body and mind prefer a slower pace. Let’s be honest, my body is screaming at me to change. (You can read more about my struggle with chronic pain here.) So, I’m going to use The Longest Night as a chance to remind myself that just because the busy world is swirling around me, it doesn’t mean that I need to stay constantly moving to be fulfilled.
I can opt to step off.
I’m going to take time this holiday season to connect with the rhythm of the natural world that is all around me but often drowned out by the noisiness of our human-made world.
I’m going to gather my family and friends around me and rejuvenate my tired soul. Click To Tweet
I hope that you will join me.
Do you use The Longest Night to restore your energy? I’d love to hear your experiences – you can leave them in the comments below :-).
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