I see so many clients over the winter season who experience heightened anxiety and stress during these cold months. Some associate it with being pre-disposed to S.A.D. (Seasonal Affective Disorder) or not getting enough variety in their diet or living too sedentary a lifestyle in the winter months. All of these reasons can be contributing factors. It is also interesting to look at it from the perspective of Traditional Chinese Medicine.
The organ that is associated with Winter in Traditional Chinese Medicine is the Kidneys and the emotion associated with the Kidneys is fear. Historically, it’s also the time of year where our ancestors would have been questioning if their once abundant food stores would get them through until spring and new growth. This means we come by our winter angst very naturally. It’s wired into us, but that doesn’t mean we cannot mindfully recognize when we are getting too deep into thought patterns of lack, stress or anxiety. It can help to re-frame what this time of year means and how to tap into the healthy rhythms it can present.
It is the Yin time of year. Yin is associated with darkness, cold, restoration, the earth, the feminine, the moon, nurturing and creation. In our culture which values high productivity, we do not necessary celebrate the (oh so necessary) Yin. In reality though, you need a balance of Yin and Yang. Darkness and light. Cold and hot. Stillness and movement. Reflection and action.
What if we threw our arms open to Yin, embraced her, nurtured her in this cold darkness? Think of all the wonderfully creative things that can happen at night, in the darkness - the northern lights, the moon and stars, dreams where our mind is unencumbered with “reality,” or the intimacy that can be found on a cold winter’s night. We need this slower time to carefully select the seeds we want to plant in the spring, that we will then coax to root into the earth while reaching for the light of the sun. What seeds are you choosing?
I like to encourage clients to use this time for reflection, rest and creativity. Do you need some inspiration of how to do that? Here are some suggestions: