Preparing for the Winter Solstice

Many people struggle with their mood this time of year, and understandably so. Managing the busy-ness of the holidays on top of our already busy lives, all while the world grows darker and colder by the day, can feel incredibly disorienting. There’s something to be said for listening to the lessons of nature during this time (at least, what nature is doing in our neck of the northern hemisphere). Outside, while the nights get longer, everyone is focused on conserving their energy. The plants have died back, storing their life force safely underground in their roots. The animals have put on energy stores through the warmer months, and now they rest to preserve their strength. The land is quiet and still, buried under a blanket of snow.

Suffice it to say, almost none of what nature is doing would be considered “rushing around.” It’s more than a little ironic that so many of us associate this season with hustle and stress. It’s hardly a time for go-go-go! Is it possible that part of the discontent many feel results from a misalignment with the natural rhythm of this time of year? Trying to fit in all the many preparations for their holiday traditions, gift-giving, wrapping up loose ends at work, and an endless list of holiday parties to attend.

Of course, most of us can’t simply drop everything to hibernate. But if we can say “no” to even a few things, it might open up some time and space to bring light and joy inside and allow us enjoy the cozy comforts that makes this season so special.

Even if you have limited time, here are just a few simple ideas you might try to infuse a little cozy calm into your holiday season.

  1. Bundle up and take a walk outside. I know, it’s cold! But a little gentle movement and time spent in nature can work wonders for the mood. It’s science 🙂
  2. Light a candle and take a moment to reflect on what you’ve accomplished this year. Many winter solstice observances across cultures emphasized the sun’s returning light as a metaphor for personal growth and rebirth. The simple act of lighting a candle can help you connect to this concept.
  3. Brew a hot cup of tea. Take time to choose your favorite tea and brew it just how you like it. As you inhale the aroma and steam, put your to-do list out of your mind for a minute. Give yourself permission to just be, savoring the feelings of warmth and coziness.
  4. Make something tasty to warm you up from the inside out! My go-to this time of year is, perhaps predictably, soup! It’s so simple to put together, fills your kitchen with delicious smells and can pack in so much nourishment. Or if baking is more your speed, perhaps whip up a spiced apple cinnamon cake that’s easy and uncomplicated to make.
  5. Call a friend or loved one. Making space for connection is always a good thing,  especially if we’re feeling frazzled. It’s important amidst the chaos to care for our most treasured relationships, grounding us and helping us to remember what matters most in life.
  6. Craft seasonal decor for around your home! Wreaths, garlands, tree ornaments… the possibilities here are far too endless to mention in the scope of this post. Some of the most popular seasonal items include evergreens, cinnamon sticks, cranberries and dried orange slices. Each of these exude the colors, smells and symbols of ancient solstice celebrations. Using biodegradable materials minimizes environmental impact and creates charming, unique decor that’s so relaxing to make.

Bringing light and festivity into our homes and celebrating the year’s end with our family and friends can be a source of immense joy. It’s something people have done to brighten this dark season for millennia. But as much as possible, it should not come at the cost of hurriedness and stress. If you are among the people who struggle right now, consider if there are burdens you could lighten in order to rest, reflect, and burrow into some cozy times. It does the heart a world of good.

Wishing you a peaceful Winter Solstice and beautiful holiday season from all of us at Sky Meadow Retreat!

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