The Winter season is a very interesting time for nature. It is the time when nature lays dormant and hibernates in preparation for the coming spring. The days are often dreary and cold and just as many other animals do, most people prefer to stay inside going out only when necessary. it is a great time for internal reflection, growth, development and preparation for the rest of the coming year.
It is also the time of the year when depression and anxiety seem to become more “visible” to many of us. While most studies have shown that the rates of depression and anxiety are no greater during this time of year than any other, we still have a perception that they are more prevalent. This used to be called the “Holiday or Winter Blues” but now has become recognized as Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD).
So why is it that so many of us feel “SAD” this time of year? Well, there are many contributing factors. One of them is the changes in the patterns of the Sun. Around June and December 21st, the sun reaches it’s lowest point in the sky and appears to be “still” as it remains there for approximately 3 days. These are the shortest days and longest nights of the year or the two points of Solstice (from the Latin words meaning “the sun stands still.”) When the sun begins moving again, we have passed the midpoint of winter and are on the way towards more and more sunlight each day!
There have been many studies that have linked “poor mood” to a lack of sunlight. This decrease in sunlight may disrupt our body’s internal clock, cause a drop in serotonin and disrupt the balance of the body’s level of melatonin all of which play a role in sleep patterns and mood. So, from September to December, is it any wonder we start feeling a little more “down?”
But the patterns of the Sun are not the only thing affecting us. The holidays we celebrate during the winter months usually include many “stressful” events that can dampen our mood. We spend time with family members. We have lots and lots of activities to attend. We rush around to the grocery store to get all the things needed for the “big dinner” and later to the mall to get the “perfect gift” for everyone on our list.
With all this activity and stress, it is easy for us to miss out on the healing time the winter provides. As we mentioned earlier, winter is the time when nature hibernates and prepares for the coming year. We should take advantage of this time ourselves as well. While we may not always feel we have the time we need to do this, it is important to set aside some personal time and allow ourselves to just “be” without “doing.”
During the holidays, many of our dragons are activated. We may have feelings of pain that arise from interaction with relatives we rarely see. We may experience disappointment when we’re not invited to the party we’d like to attend or discover we didn’t receive a gift we hoped to receive. All of these “let downs” can bring back difficult feelings and emotions at a time when we don’t have the sun available in the sky to recharge us.
The plain and simple truth is that during this time of hibernation we should take care of ourselves. We must allow ourselves to treat us well. We should take some “me” time to get a massage, spend a day at the spa, visit a museum or read that book on the nightstand. We should allow ourselves to indulge a bit with a food or dessert that we’ve have denied ourselves. We should attend that seminar or take that trip we’ve been putting off for a while.
When we allow ourselves to have this “me” time something magical happens; we learn a great deal about our dragons.
As we relax and calm ourselves, the feelings of pain and fear we may have experienced in the recent months become less prominent in the present moment. With that reduced prominence, we can examine those feelings more objectively and learn what motivates them, where they originate or, in other words, the source of the EchoTM for us.
Discovering why feelings of pain and fear arise for us is half the battle in overcoming them. Once we acknowledge that source is in the past, we realize those feelings can no longer hurt us now unless we choose to bring them into our present moment. All that is left then is to become Comfortable Being UncomfortableTM which means that when we experience unpleasant feelings, we don’t give into them immediately but we instead consciously recognize the dragon for what it is: an Echo.
As we continue this practice we discover that, in no time at all, the dragon no longer even shows up or, if it does, that we can easily dismiss it and return our focus to the present moment. This keeps us moving forward on our journey and promotes healing for not just us but for those around us as well.
Last week we moved our clocks ahead to Spring Forward and this Friday (March 20th or the “Spring Equinox”) is the first “official” day of Spring. Let’s use the next week or so to allow ourselves the final benefits of our winter hibernation. It will give us great momentum towards having a wondrous, empowered, beauty filled year.