How to Brighten the Rest of Winter

How to Brighten the Rest of Winter
The festivities which began in early fall have ended and there is nothing left to anticipate other than spring, a faraway oasis. Did you ever wonder why all three major holidays, Chanukah, Christmas and Kwanza, coincide with the winter solstice and use light as their dominant symbol? All of us need light to alleviate the dark winter blues. So whether we live in the colder regions of the North or it’s time-to-put-on-our-sweater down South, we are all experiencing the winter doldrums in varying degrees.

Most of us lack energy waking up in the darkness and start to yawn as soon as the sun sets in early evening. We find it hard to motivate ourselves to leave our caves to seek adventures. Cold weather along with less daylight stresses us out physically and emotionally; our legs feel like they are dragging a leg iron. However, nature always has a plan. If the weather keeps us indoors and the darkness causes us to wind down earlier, then we should honor our biorhythms instead of overriding them with artificial light and technology. Let’s perceive winter as an opportunity to turn inward to cocoon and hibernate, before emerging in the spring with exciting new plans and new vibrations. Remember: instead of using artificial light, we can always flick the switch and turn on our inner light. Perhaps, you might want to use a dimmer.

Here are some research-based tips on warming your heart during the cold weather:
  • Exercise – turn on the music and move. Exercise raises your body temperature and releases happiness chemistry.
  • Sip hot herbal tea. Because you can’t gulp it, by sipping hot tea you slow down and relax. The warmth permeates your body. Different flavors contribute to aromatic relaxation. Experiment and discover your favorite de-stressor.
  • A long hot bath with a cup of chamomile tea added to your bath water is a great muscle relaxant, emotional de-stressor and will please your senses.
  • Switch to a winter diet of rich stews, hearty peasant food made with beans and root vegetables, and chunky, thick soups to give you extra energy as well as keep you warm.
  • Try a candle light meditation to infuse your spirit with fire. Sit comfortably and stare at a lit candle for one minute; then close your eyes for 3-5 minutes to see what heart-warming images come up for you.
  • Eat fatty fish (salmon, tuna and herring), walnuts, omega 3- enriched-eggs and other omega enriched products. Omega 3s are guaranteed to lift your mood; they are heart smart and brain smart.
  • You don’t need robins to herald in the spring! This time of year you can plant some spring bulbs in colorful pots and watch them bloom in your house: tulips, crocuses, hyacinths, narcissus and daffodils. Or you can buy bulbs already in bloom at your local supermarket, garden center or Costco. Note: some bulbs like hyacinths will give you an added pleasure, a great fragrance.
  • Dark winter colors like red, dark green and purple need to be lightened up with their pastel versions to brighten up your home environment. Consider pillows, café curtains and silk flowers.
  • Look forward to a weekly theme get-together with friends like book clubs, exercise clubs, art parties and cooking clubs.
  • Clean out a drawer, a closet, your basement, garage or all of the above and watch your spirit soar. You will discover new space and feel liberated. Home will become a more serene, purer place to nest as opposed to being stuck in a cluttered mess.

Debbie Mandel, MA is the author of Changing Habits: The Caregivers' Total Workout and Turn On Your Inner Light: Fitness for Body, Mind and Soul, a stress-reduction specialist, motivational speaker, a personal trainer and mind/body lecturer. She is the host of the weekly Turn On Your Inner Light Show on WGBB AM1240 in New York City , produces a weekly wellness newsletter, and has been featured on radio/ TV and print media. To learn more visit:

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This content was written by Debbie Mandel. If you wish to use this content in any manner, you need written permission. Contact Debbie Mandel for details.