Darkness as Our Ally: Winter Solstice Wisdom to Improve Mental Health

The darkest day of the year is coming up on Tuesday, December 21: the Winter Solstice. 

With it comes the reminder that this time of year is meant to be dormant, patient, and slow. Seeds are buried underground, squirrels are curled up in trees, and we spend more time indoors escaping the cold. 

We can make this time of year sacred by using it for rest and reflection. Let’s talk below about how to make winter work for us. Together we can intentionally shiver our way towards a brighter, resurgent spring.

Using the Winter Solstice to Soothe the Winter Blues

Those who struggle with their mental health tend to struggle with the darkest parts of their mental health. No one has a problem being too happy or too fulfilled—we have problems feeling too sad, too anxious, or too distracted. 

We must accept these as real, true parts of ourselves in order to heal from them. We can start by accepting winter in all its beauty and its cruelty.

By suppressing painful emotions or blaming ourselves for feeling terrible all the time, we avoid seeing the full picture of ourselves. No, we don’t want to become overwhelmed with terrible emotions all the time, but being aware of them is the first step toward healing them.

Without the total shutdown of winter, we wouldn’t have the relief of spring or the bountifulness of summer. They all work in balance with each other, just as our emotions and moods fluctuate and cycle over time. Remember, with every winter comes the promise of spring. All bad things and good things eventually come to an end. 

Turn this Winter Solstice into a spiritual day of rest by acknowledging, accepting, and reflecting on some of the darker aspects of yourself.

Journal Prompts to Help Us Reflect This Winter

Because reflecting is easier said than done, try using some of the following journal prompts too, to get your introspective juices flowing:

  • What habits, patterns, or practices do I wish to let go of because they no longer serve me?
  • How do I feel about letting them go? Were there any times that I felt grateful for them?
  • What makes me feel inspired or motivated? How can I incorporate more of these moments in my day?
  • What makes me feel drowsy and sluggish? How can I self-regulate how often these moments occur?
  • What do I wish to manifest this coming spring?
  • What are some things I am grateful for this Winter Solstice?
  • What do I need to forgive myself for?

Things to Incorporate in Our Winter Solstice Rituals

The elements that we craft into our personal rituals are what give them meaning to us. We can strengthen them by adding activities like these:

Watch The Sunset on The Solstice

The sunset on the Solstice is a great time to pause, set our intentions, and acknowledge the change of the seasons around us. Look for snow, dead branches, or simply your breath in the chilled air. Become one with nature.

Celebrate with Cozy Lights

As the sun leaves us for longer and longer, invite it into your home with light of your own. We can join the Jews by lighting a menorah, the Christians by hanging lights on the tree, or the Pagans by burning a Yule log. 

Hold a Fire Ceremony

Fire ceremonies involve writing down things we wish to release on small pieces of paper, then tossing them into the fire with close friends and family around. We can end the ritual by sharing things we are grateful for by celebrating with noisemakers and music.

Make the most of this season. Are you looking for more ways to improve your mental health this winter? Please read more about counseling and reach out to my office to start counseling today.