Good morning. Happy Monday and happy winter solstice. Each December, somewhere between the 21 and 22nd, we celebrate an instant called winter solstice. It represents the time that daylight is at it’s shortest. I used to find it totally ironic that I should be born on December 22, when I am ALL about sunlight and warmth. As I got older, I realized, in fact, that it actually made total sense.
Now as I celebrate my birthdays and winter solstice, together, I celebrate the fact that each day, an extra moment of sunlight will be gained, before the sun goes to sleep for the night. This is the greatest gift I can receive and one I am guaranteed each and every year. It is not only the actual sunlight, but the reminder than even in the darkest hour, there is always hope.
Many of us experience depression around the holidays. Thoughts of loved ones that are no longer with us, missing our family members who may be scattered around the world and employment and financial woes (perhaps worse this year than many others), all can lead to depression. We must all work very hard at practicing gratitude for all we DO have and also to do and give what we can to those who are struggling even more than us.
I remember one Thanksgiving when a student didn’t have family to celebrate with. Gladly she could have come to my home to share in the festivities with us, but she already had made other plans. She decided instead of being lonely she would go serve food in a soup kitchen. It’s not the first time my student and friend, Christine, impressed me. It wasn’t the last, either. Just when we think we have it bad, giving can be exactly the medicine to keep us from feeling sorry for ourselves!
All too often, we find ourselves eating (especially sweets) to try to fill a void that can NEVER be filled with food. We may medicate ourselves with alcohol or drugs to try and forget our problems or mask our loneliness, but these behaviors always create rebound effects. Sweets make us crave more sweets and also play tricks with our hunger as our insulin spikes and falls. Alcohol has its place for those that like to indulge while celebrating, but drinking alone to escape our problems only causes more problems and adds tons of calories to the daily intake.
With just a few days left till Christmas and the final 10 days left till new year’s eve, if you are feeling blue, stop and shake yourself off and start to think of all the things and people you are grateful for. Give some thought to people both near and far away that you can help. Perhaps its a phone call, dropping off some blankets at a homeless shelter, or like Christine did, making a plan to help feed the hungry.
Take some time for YOU, too. Some of the greatest luxuries in life are free and meant to be enjoyed solo. Try going for a run to boost your endorphins. Maybe a yoga session is more your style. Not in the mood to exercise? Try to find a quiet, peaceful spot and meditate on all the positive things that await you–or upon NOTHING at all, and find the serenity in that NOTHINGNESS. Curl up on a comfortable chair with a blanket and watch an old, feel good movie. Try soaking in a hot tub while you read a book, magazine or listen to some music. Often times, putting on some sad music, and slowly evolving to happier songs can turn a frown right upside down. Everyone has one or two healthy, comforting rituals that take you from sad to glad in no time.
Just as today is the shortest day of sunlight and tomorrow will be brighter, out of dark, always comes light. Try going out and being the light in someone else’s life. It will make yours that much brighter. Namaste.