by Sara Vance, Nutritionist & Author of The Perfect Metabolism Plan. Founder of ReBalance LifeThis time of year can be demanding and stressful – shopping endlessly to find the perfect gift for everyone on your list, preparing for parties and travel, dealing with long lines and congested traffic, and being tempted at every turn by holiday treats and sweets. All of this can leave us feeling depleted both mentally and physically.
Thankfully, smack dab right in the middle of all the holiday hustle and bustle is a little gift for the soul –
The Winter Solstice
A solstice is an astronomical event that happens twice a year as the sun reaches the highest or lowest point relative to the equator. The word solstice is derived from the Latin sol or “sun” and sistere, “to stand still,” because the moon appears to stand still in the sky. This Sunday, December 21 marks the Winter Solstice in the Northern Hemisphere*, which is the shortest day of the year.
The Winter Solstice is a wonderful time to hit the pause button in our lives. It is said that the Winter Solstice opens up a portal to the soul. Historically, the Winter Solstice has been a time to renew our connection to each other, the divine, and within. So it is an ideal time to slow down, look inward to reflect and renew; and to nourish the body and soul.
Just Stop the Madness!
Many of us have a hard time slowing down. We are used to juggling 20 things at once. And if we do take a pause, we might even feel guilty! But just know – that allowing the body to rest and recover is essential for lasting mental and physical wellness. In my upcoming book The Perfect Metabolism Plan, I discuss how poorly managed stress can lead to weight gain, increased disease risk, and more. Some possible signs that you are over-extending yourself or under excess stress include:
- Frequent colds/flu
- Trouble sleeping
- Digestion issues
- Elevated cholesterol, glucose or blood pressure
- Excess weight gain (especially around midsection)
- Hormone imbalances
So this Sunday, hit your pause button without a shred of guilt – give yourself permission to take a break from the stressful aspects of the holidays. Don’t have time to spend the whole day relaxing? Just start small – even setting aside a few minutes for some peace and quiet can go a long way to heal your adrenals and clear your mind.
Some Winter Solstice rituals:
- Curl up in a comfy chair with a blanket and a warming cup of herbal tea
- Take an Epsom salt bath
- Get lost in a good book
- Take a nap or a leisurely walk
- Light some candles (choose beeswax or soy-based, avoid parafin or synthetically scented candles – read more)
- Do something that you find nurturing – healthy cooking, crafts, scrapbooking, knitting, playing games.
- Forgive (yourself or someone else)
- Reflect on 2014, and dream about the New Year
And just remember, it does not need to be a Solstice to hit the pause button. If we can regularly give the body and mind some rest and recovery time, we can become more productive and effective down the road.
Need some other tips for staying healthy and managing holiday stress? Read Keep Calm and Merry On for 10 tips to stay healthy a reduce stress this holiday season.
*In the Southern Hemisphere, Sunday, December 21st is the longest day of the year, or the Summer Solstice.
Interested in learning more about the Solstices’? Further reading:Winter Solstice Traditions – Rituals for a Simple Celebration