Some of you, like me, may find these winter months emotionally challenging. Modern society currently calls it ‘seasonal affective disorder (SAD)’. But admiring the beautiful trees shedding their leaves during this period, I realised that a change of mood during these months doesn’t have to be seen as a “disorder”. It can instead be seen as just part of the natural flow of life.
As I am transitioning towards winter, I have been feeling the pang of deep darkness that I didn’t feel during the summer. I feel like I am shedding my leaves, shedding the pain and hurt that was stuck inside. I am seeing thoughts and emotions that I didn’t know existed within me. In embracing these emotions, I am feeling very raw.
In the summer we sprout our leaves. Our energy goes outwards. We are active, we are creative. We swing more towards the so-called ‘positive’ emotions of joy and pleasure. In the winter, just like the trees, we too shed our leaves. Some of us transition towards the so-called ‘negative’ emotions of sadness and pain.
However, most of us do not like this. This is because during the summer we come under a spell. We start to believe that we are the leaves of the tree, and forget that we have other sturdier, deeper parts of ourselves – like the bark or roots.
If you look at a tree in the winter, it stands there firmly in all of its bare glory. It is unapologetically naked. It reminds us that is ok to be vulnerable during this season. It gently waves its branches in the wind, like an arm summoning us to join it in embracing this period.
Remember that darkness can be seen as a gift. It is nature’s invitation to quietly delve deep within ourselves, to breakdown our existing paradigms and to start to feel who exactly we are. If you are doubtful of the gifts darkness can bring, let me ask you this – how many important life lessons have you learnt while happy? Chances are, any deep truths that you now know are things you learnt from the tough periods that you have been through.
Remember that winter has its gifts if we are willing to accept it for what it is.
Even though I write about the positives of winter darkness, I’m not going to pretend that I deal with it well. I find it hard. Very hard. I also know that because I am very sensitive to the seasons, I would be much happier in a place with more warmth and sunlight (maybe because my inner “plants” are tropical?). One day, I hope to move to a country more towards the equator. Until then though, I am going to strive to embrace the gifts that these dark months give me. I definitely have learnt a hell of a lot and I am very grateful for this.
I also bought an SAD Lamp, and it’s made an enormous difference to both my mood and my energy levels. I recommend it strongly to anyone who is also struggling. At the same time though, my heightened energy levels, thanks to the lamp, feel a bit ‘unnatural’ to me. A bit like I’m forcing myself to work on caffeine. I only use it to keep up energy levels at work. I think in an ideal world I would listen to my heart and body and embrace the darkness a bit more.
One thing I’ve learnt this winter season is to accept the changes that naturally come with increased darkness. My flat becomes messier. I’m not motivated to cook exciting, healthy meals. I find it hard to keep up hobbies. I want to see people less. And this is all ok.
Spring will come eventually.