As winter approaches, it is a time when it can really sink in for some of us that we have a long, dark winter ahead. It is the part of the yearly cycle in which dreams are incubated, ideas are created, and shadow work is cultivated.
This for some may feel daunting and scary, as it often involves facing challenging emotions. It’s been given various titles such as Depression, Seasonal Affective Disorder, and even been alluded to levels of madness. Remember that if such times sweep over you during this winter, these feelings are the counter companions of contentment, serenity, and even joy. They truly are two sides of the same coin and embracing emotions keeps us open to experiencing life in its entirety.
In understanding the challenges of the darker days, I offer a structure of ways in which you can fully support yourself in your darkness to maintain the sweetness of these times and remain available to the opportunities to strengthen your self. Below are my seven key strategies to creating a foundation in winter happiness:
Minerals are the substratum of our well being, and keeping them topped up in our bodies will give one an overall grounded, stable, calm feel. Ways in which human beings have traditionally optimized mineral intake in their diets are through bone broths, animal protein, mineral rich herbs such as oat straw and nettles, the wondrous seaweeds, and vegetables grown in soil that is regularly re-mineralized. Make sure to also nurture a good, clean burning digestive tract in order to absorb minerals efficiently!
The gut-brain connection has been a big buzz as of late and for good reason. Essentially what we’re seeing is that when the gut flora is intact, humans have a more positive emotional landscape. Culture your life with fermented foods and notice how it shifts the shade in the lenses of perspective you wear through life.
2) Plant medicine
There are a few especially helpful categories of herbs that keep us feeling light in heart and spirit. We have specifically combined our favourite herbs for winter blues and herbs that help for depression in the Harmonic Arts tincture blend Uplifted Spirits.
Adaptogenic herbs assist us to best deal with the stresses that come at us in life, although remember Adaptogens don’t take away the stressors, rather bring us more resiliency towards them. It is important to remove the factors that are causing us stress as best we can.
And one more classification that I think is important for well being in any circumstance are the liver tonics. They ensure that our livers are strong enough to filter out the physiological stressors that are often present in our environments.
I came across the most simple yet impactual breakdown of the word depressed the other day, which really hit home for the basic needs of a being going through such a time. Depressed = Deep Rest. Such a simple solution, which is what the body demands when in a depressed state, yet so often we feel as though the desire to rest fully is the root of the problem. Reflect your lifestyle choices with what nature is doing and during winter months, this is with rest! In the Traditional Chinese Medicine philosophy it is recommended to sleep on average of 10 hours during the winter in northern climates.
Many of the world’s brilliant artists reside in colder climate regions. They have become masters at leveraging the cool, dark months to incubate ideas and create great works of art. It is essential for the human psyche to flourish through the creative process of exploring subconscious realms to “clean house” of stagnant hurts or traumas from the past that may be lingering within, and affecting the present moment. In working through the creative process we are subconsciously filtering out past experiences that no longer serve us in the here and now. Art allows us to transmute these experiences and shine light on the deep learning opportunity that can transform this moment into the gift the present ever desires being.
Winter months often conjure up visions of families and friends spending time around the hearth, telling stories, sharing in laughter, and nourishing one another with warm meals and loving connections. Use this time to stay connected and supported by your tribe and in return offer the same strength to those you love. The reciprocation of the positive feedback loop your love creates can lift spirits in the darkest of hours.
6) Flower Power
Bring back those sunny days with the help of our flower friends. You can try using your favourite flower scented essential oils in a bath or diffuser in the home, use flower essences in your water, or work with flower infusions such as oils, salves, or tinctures created by yourself, or your favourite herbal dispensary!
I have seen time and time again that the strongest foundation in creating optimal health is through movement. Commit to moving your body every day, and if you can incorporate doing it outside as much as possible the benefit doubles. Feeling your body receiving the fresh air that is rejuvenated by nature herself is a magical experience. Stagnant indoor air intensified by central heating systems in the home is proportionate to breathing dead air. We need live food, live water, live air, and live movement! So get out there, move your body, breathe the fresh air, and if you can climb a mountain to get above the clouds you may just feel on top of the world 😉
My wish for you is that you enjoy a deeply restful and nourishing, creative winter this year and for many more to come. In the comments below please share any insights you may have gained in finding a place of enjoyment during your winter season. ~ Angela Willard
Angela Willard received her Clinical Herbalist Diploma from the Wild Rose College in Calgary, Alberta, Canada in 2005. She has since been in practice as an Herbalist through many avenues including consulting, growing herbs, wildcrafting, and co-creating the Harmonic Arts Botanical Dispensary. She actively adds herbal and health tools to her basket through continual upgrading of her knowledge with a strong focus on Women’s health and wellness. Sharing information that empowers people to live with integrity to their highest potential is a strong calling that fuels her on this path.