The winter solstice is less than one month away. This year it will be on Friday, December 21. The winter solstice is the shortest day of the year in contrast to the Summer solstice, the longest day of the year. On the winter solstice in Philadelphia the sun will rise at 7:19 am and set at 4:39 pm. This only gives us 9 hours and 20 minutes of sunshine as opposed to about 16 hours of sunlight on the longest day of the year. This is almost a seven hour difference.
This huge difference in the amount of sunlight we receive can make a dramatic difference in our energy and moods. It is natural to feel more energetic and uplifted on bright and sunny days, whether it is summer or winter. We also feel more energetic in the summer, provided it is not too hot and humid!
During the winter, when sunlight is low, we can take steps to pick up our energy and moods. These are some suggestions to adapt into your diet and home or work environment.
Most of the food we eat is converted into physical, emotional, mental and even spiritual energy. During the winter months we need more warmth and energy from our foods and cooking. Grain, bean and vegetable stews are always a good choice. Hearty soups can also make a difference. Try to use sesame or olive oil daily in cooking and don’t forget some mild spice from ginger, garlic or pepper. It is also important to also have some light and refreshing dishes in the winter to complement the hearty, long cooked dishes.
We also absorb food, in the form of energy, from our environment. This includes our home and work environments, the area we live in and season. Our home and work environments can either nourish and charge us or have the opposite effect of draining us. It is easy to feel exhausted in stagnated and synthetic environments without fresh air or natural light. Try to keep these places clutter free, well ventilated and let in natural light when possible. An abundance of green plants can also make a noticeable difference in our energy and moods, especially during the winter. During the summer, when there is abundant sunlight we get more energy from the environment and need less physical food. These things are less of a concern during the warm summer months.
Try to get outside more even if you are not a winter person. Build up your resistance to the cold little by little with short walks until you feel that you can get a half hour a day in. You will feel better if you have more contact with the brisk outside air and natural light. For those of you who are a little more hearty, try finishing your hot shower with cold!
Even thought the winter solstice is the shortest day, the coldest time is still to come in January and February. Early February is when nature’s energy starts to shift and is actually the real beginning of spring. I hope these suggestions help you through the cold winter months until the spring and increased sunlight appear once again!