It’s no coincidence that the season following daylight savings time is filled with celebrations of light. No matter your culture or belief system, this time of the year is filled with candles, stars, glittery decorations, and sparkly snowflakes to help us illuminate the darkness. With these celebrations come more time with family and often the images and pressure of the “perfect” joy-filled moments. For many people, holiday music blaring from the speakers in stores and a line snaking through the mall waiting for Santa fills them with magic and wonder and much joy, but for others, not even the most tantalizing smell of warm apple cider can spark a smile.
Seasonal Affective Disorder affects more than 3 million Americans every year. THREE MILLION! Suffice it to say, if you feel like you are alone in the darkness, you are not. Many people brush off that yearly feeling of emptiness as simply the “winter blues” and resign themselves to the notion that they have to tough it out on their own. This is certainly not so, and the good news is, there are steps you can take to elevate your mood and keep you motivated to move forward.
The most important thing to do is acknowledge, without judgement, that it’s okay to be sad. The mere act of accepting yourself as you are is enough to light even the dimmest candle, and that small flame can carry you through the darkness. Next, reach out to a friend, family member, or physician and ask them to help you get through this period of darkness. Light therapy is a great place to start, and light boxes are inexpensive and easy to find. Get your mind and body to a yoga class or take a brisk walk on a chilly day, and ask your trusted friend or family member to be your accountability buddy. Check out the Five Tips for Healthy Stress Relief for some more ideas for healthy stress relief, as well. Again, most importantly, acknowledge that this time of the year is difficult for some people (ya know, a mere 3 million…) and you don’t have to suffer alone.
Today, shine some light on yourself and those around you — light a candle, turn on some sparkly twinkle lights, and bask in the warm glow of illumination. Wherever this holiday season finds you, know that I am sending you light and endless wishes for a healthy and happy holiday!