15 December 2010

Let Your Heart Be Light

A wintry hike can sweep out mental cobwebs
Today on a local radio show, the topic was SAD, that is, Seasonal Affective Disorder.  This disorder describes people who become clinically depressed when it's dark outside.

The beginning of the show (Think Out Loud on OPB) described the disorder from a medical view, but the latter part focused on stories of survival and solution during the dark days of winter.

They all involved Light.

Light is the answer.  Whether lightboxes or candles, a walk outside, or the warmth of the oven, it is light that helps.  Makes sense, since it is its absence that creates the problem.

We give a lot during the holidays -- a lot of our own light.  Even if were are not gift-givers, we are going to parties, talking to friends and family, or even just making a small effort to be more friendly.  All of this can add up to a feeling of overwhelm and depletion.  We want to give, but not to give it all away.

Here are 5 ways to help bring in and keep the light this holiday season:

1.  Enjoy.  Don't just do fun things, enjoy them.  When you feel that sense of too much bustle, make sure to pause and survey your surroundings.  Are you exhausted?  Take a seat, have a beverage, take time while you're at the mall or the bazaar or downtown to sit and do something for yourself. Enjoy the day.

2.  Short-shop.  Have a half hour during the work day when you can steal down to a cute shop for those stocking stuffers?  Do it.  Have an extra hour at the end of the day when you could stop by the bookstore to pick up a few things?  Do it.  Just take the time that you have a do a few things here and there.  They all add up and prevent the last minute frenzy.

3.  Eat.  We all eat during the holidays, sometimes too much.  Be sure to take time for nutritive foods during this time.  4 butter cookies is not lunch.  It can make you feel as full as lunch, but it is not lunch.  Indulge and enjoy, but make sure you are eating good meals, getting good nutrition, and adding in the fun foods as an indulgence.  If you skip lunch so that you can 3 glasses of eggnog tonight, you are not doing yourself any favors.

4.  Take time to feel.  Are you missing someone this holiday season?  Take time to feel the feelings you are having and allow them to be a part of your season.  Take a long walk and allow yourself to reflect on how you are feeling as the year ends.  What is it time to let go of?  What do you need as you move forward?

5.  Laugh.  Whatever holiday you do or do not celebrate, bring in the light with laughter.  Watch a favorite comedy with friends, play games, celebrate.  Laughter gives us energy and shakes us out of old patterns.  Make time for fun and let your heart be light.
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