By Kacie Wedel
Happy 21 December! Are you ready to tackle the day? I, for one, know that I’m not going to want to get out of bed. Why, you ask? Well it’s the winter solstice! This means we get the least amount of sunlight during the day than any other day of the year.
Often this time of year can bring fatigue, low self esteem, and the “winter blues.” These feelings often can indicate Seasonal Affective Disorder. With the days getting shorter and the temperature getting colder, it’s hard to keep our spirits up. Because the winter solstice is today, this can bring exceptional challenges in fighting to remain positive.
Do you relate to the feelings mentioned above? If so, don’t worry. It’s actually pretty common!
What are some ways we can keep Seasonal Affective Disorder at bay? And how exactly is this related to the winter solstice? Allow me to quickly clarify the topic.
What is the winter solstice?
The winter solstice occurs when the North Pole is its furthest distance from the sun, with the opposite happening at the South Pole. Since the North Pole is about to be as far as it can be from the Sun, we’re also about to experience the shortest day of the year. Really what I mean is that we’re about to experience the least amount of sunlight in a 24 hour period.
Yearly, people gather at Stonehenge to watch the sun rise and fall aligned with the stones to mark the start of summer and winter. This is probably one of the more notable traditions of celebrating the solstices. Although gathering at Stonehenge will be closed this year, they are still providing the opportunity to watch online. This is a great alternative so that we are still able to experience the beautiful view of the Stonehenge winter solstice.
Seasonal Affective Disorder
Now that we know what the winter solstice is, how does this affect us? As mentioned before, you might notice a shift in your mood here lately. Part of this is due to the lack of sunlight and Vitamin D that we are getting from the shorter days that we are experiencing.
This can bring on the mood disorder SAD. Seasonal Affective Disorder, SAD, the winter blues – whichever you prefer. These are all used when describing that lethargic feeling a lot of us get once we get to the end of the year.
Some of the symptoms include, but are not limited to,
- having a difficulty in concentration
- finding it more difficult to wake up in the morning and sleeping in more than usual
- eating more than usual, especially carbs since they are heavier in fat and can help to keep us warm
- being more indecisive
- low self esteem
- feeling irritable or anxious
As you can see, SAD can bring a lot of… well, sad feelings. This can get quite discouraging, especially during 2020. People that suffer from this form of clinical depression are already at a higher risk for experiencing mood episodes, and as COVID has taken over this year, it might feel as if there’s no end in sight.
I’m here to tell you… Don’t give up hope! We can fight through this darkness and we can do it together.
How to keep the SAD at bay
Right, so how do we keep the sad at bay?
As much as the symptoms of SAD might seem overwhelming, the ways to ward it off are just as substantial.
With a lack of sunlight being a key contributing factor to Seasonal Affective Disorder, it’s crucial that we try to get out as much as we’re able in order to soak up the little rays we have. Vitamin D plays a big role in helping to regulate both our energy and our moods.
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Staying active easily ties into getting enough sunlight. A great way to stay active, and one of my favourites, is by going out for a walk. This helps keep your blood flowing, and the cold air can bring an alertness and mental clarity to get a jumpstart to your day.
Connect with others
Something I will always recommend is having a great support system. Remaining connected with our friends and family during a year that has been so unsteady is so important. Maintaining these connections can help boost our self esteem and confidence, and can bring us a sense of comfort and joy during such uncertain times.
Have things to look forward to
I know this is a hard one this year, but it’s still something we can achieve. For example, I know I am definitely looking forward to this year being done with! Aren’t we all? But if the winter months are still dragging you down, remember spring will be here before we know it. And with spring comes blooming flowers and lots of green and sunshine. A winning combination!
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Hygge – get cosy
Hygge is a great principle to take into account when thinking of ways to get cosy. A very fun word that is pronounced “Hooga,” it is the concept of focusing on appreciating “slow living.” By incorporating Hygge into our lives, we concentrate on the things that calm us such as candles or soft pillows in order to soothe any anxiety we may be feeling.
A ray of light in the darkness
The winter solstice might bring us the darkest day of the year, but this doesn’t mean it has to darken our mood. As always, it’s important that we remain introspective and mindful as we continue on throughout our lives.
As wise Professor Albus Dumbledore from Harry Potter once said,
“Happiness can be found, even in the darkest of times, if one only remembers to turn on the light.”
Find a way to turn on the light in your life. This can be metaphorical, or literal. Take a moment to stand outside and breathe in the fresh air. Reflect on the good things you have going for you, and use that to power you through these darker days. The light at the end of the tunnel is coming, we just have to keep moving forward to get to it.