As the days get shorter, mornings darker, and the afternoons disappear, it may be hard to maintain optimism as we let go of the sun, the warmth and longer days.
May I suggest that rather than jump to the same old mantra, and immediately convince yourself that doom and gloom will follow, embrace this seasonal shift. Simply flip the switch and see winter and all the beauty of cooling temperatures and shorter days as an opportunity to slow down.
For many of us, there is a sense of coziness that comes with late fall and winter, while others suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder. If possible, try to see the colder, darker days as an excuse to wear lots of clothing, to bundle up and stay close to family, animals, and everything that roots us down.
Light some candles, light fires, drink warm beverages and enjoy the sense of community all around.
Why does winter have such a bad reputation with many? Well, the answer may be in the biological changes that occur when we are exposed to sun and heat; In ayurveda the presence of sunlight stimulates sadhaka pita which is a subtype of the pitta dosha. What this means is that summer stimulates the mood center of the brain. With increase sunlight we feel happier, right? This is a point I do not think most would argue. During the winter months, the exact opposite happens in the body as inferior meda dhatu dushti is present resulting in depleted serotonin levels.
So how can we work with the decrease in serotonin levels and restore emotional and physical balance to our mind and bodies?
Once again I turn to the principles of Ayurveda for the answer: In ayurveda, the winter season is a time when nature is ready to nurture us. Rather than see this time as an attack on the body and mind, I suggest you flip the switch and see this slower darker cozier time as an opportunity to boast your immune system and enhance your overall mood.
Because the digestive level is very high, people feel hungrier, and can actually digest food better in winter, thus nourishing their bodies more. Be aware of this and and eat with intention. Your body is metabolizing food and repairing cells at a faster rate, so what you eat may enhance your mood in a profound way. Eat foods that are grown locally, try smaller more frequent meals, get your slow cooker out and make some stews or kitchery.
Eat foods that nourish your body, take part in saunas or hot yoga, let go of the expectation that you should feel and live as you did in the summer months. Welcome the cold, I mean this literally. Get some warm clothing so you can walk outside and not feel like you are being assaulted by the elements.
See the winter seasonal shift as an opportunity for your body to replenish, to store nutrients, to slow down, and breathe. Embrace the darkness, the cold, the snow, the shorter days. Flip the negative switch, let go of the negative words and see the natural rhythms of seasonal shifts as an opportunity for your body and mind to heal and rebuild.