5 Ways the Winter Solstice Can Make You Happier & Healthier

winter solsticeHappy winter solstice, fellow Earthlings! Today is the shortest day of the year. The days have been getting so short lately, 5 p.m. was starting to feel like the middle of the night. But that all changes after today. The light is coming back: Starting tomorrow, the days will start growing longer.

Did you know that winter solstice can also be good for your health? For most of us, New Year's is a chance to take stock of our lives and set new goals. But for me, winter solstice seems more fitting. It's a chance to slow down in the middle of the holiday madness. And I like getting in sync with the seasons. Find out how celebrating winter solstice can help you get 2012 off to a fresh, hopeful start.

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Embrace the dark. Today is a good day to let the early evening help you wind down sooner than you normally would. Let the dark help you quiet your mind. Do what you need to feel especially cozy. Turn off the TV or the laptop and read a book or call a friend instead. This is a good night to just go easy on yourself and your family.

And embrace the growing light. Ancient winter solstice ceremonies used to take place around a bonfire. For something a little more fitting for the modern household, you could light a fire in the fireplace or light some candles. Welcome the return of longer daylight hours as a sign of hope.

Let go of the past. This is a chance to let go of the burdens you might be carrying around with you. Forgive people who have hurt you. Decide not to be offended by things you don't have to be offended by (it's always a long list!). Forgive yourself for anything you regret doing but vow to learn from your mistakes.

Change your diet. I'm not talking about going on a diet. That's not happening this week for any of us! But according to traditional Chinese medicine, winter is associated with the kidney/bladder organ system. Herbalist Cathy McNease suggests eating dark foods to support your kidneys. Even if you think that's all hokum, it just so happens that dark foods are really good for you anyway. Make friends with the kale, blueberries, and black beans. Oh, and chocolate, of course.

Get your health game on. Winter solstice is also a good time to take stock of your health habits. Before the cold winds really set in, look at what you could be doing to boost your immunity. Make a pledge that you will honor yourself by caring for your health.

Do you do anything to mark winter solstice?


Image via Bernt Rostad/Flickr

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