Winter Solstice Self-Care to Welcome the Turning of the Year
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In the heart of the darkest night of the year, we look forward to the longer days that will slowly approach and bring us new life and birth with the spring. Winter has begun, and as we huddle together around a crackling fire or cuddle deep into our favorite comforter, we are reminded that winter's sleep is but a moment in time.
We turn inward to ourselves and our community and celebrate the light within as we practice ancient rituals made modern: feasting, gathering around a Yule log, lighting candles, and singing songs that bring merriness and joy to an otherwise cold and dark time of year.
Winter solstice marks the time of year when the northern hemisphere is tilted at its furthest point away from the sun. It is recognized as a time of rebirth, renewal, and the returning of the light.
Cultures and religions around the world celebrate winter solstice—although they may give it their own name and attach varying customs and rituals to satisfy their community’s requirements.
Whether you celebrate the winter solstice in solitude or with the gathering of friends and family, remember to make time to care for yourself during this sacred time of the year.
I’m all for a warm, leisurely bath any time of the year. But there’s no more relaxing way to wash away winter’s chill than soaking in a steamy tub filled with fragrant flowers.
Add chamomile, lavender, and rose petals to a muslin tea bag, and toss the bag into your bath to let it steep. Light a white candle surrounded with clear and rose quartz, or place a white tealight candle into a rose quartz candleholder (like this one) to create a soft, peaceful glow while you relax. Imagine the worries of the year fading away as warmth and light fill the room.
How about taking a mindful walk early in the morning or on the evening of the winter solstice?
As you quietly walk, listen to the sound of your feet on the soil or the crunching of snow under your boots. Look at the trees—have they lost their leaves, letting the sunlight through, or are you surrounded by evergreens that gather clusters of snow and drop them to the earth when the wind blows? Can you see animal tracks in the mud or snow? Are birds chirping in the branches or flying overhead to a warmer clime?
How about creating a solstice journal? Unlike a daily journal, a solstice journal is something you only add to during the turnings of the year: the summer and winter solstices, and the vernal and autumnal equinoxes.
Looking back on your year a quarter at a time can give you a broader perspective on changes that have occurred or that need to be made as you move forward. You can use the same journal for decades, adding to it and watching the shaping of your beautiful life as you build upon it year after year.
Pour a cup of dream tea
Settle in for a dream-filled sleep on the longest night of the year by brewing a cup of dream tea with herbs reputed to encourage creative and lucid dreams.
Dreaming allows the subconscious mind to work through challenges and overcome stress. Why not help the process along by adding a teaspoon of mugwort and ½ teaspoon of passionflower* to a cup of hot water and steeping for 5–10 minutes? Sip the infusion before bedtime, and remember to keep your dream journal close by so you can write down any dreams you remember as soon as you wake up!
Set intentional moments
Too much time is wasted worrying about the future or despairing over the past.
Bring yourself into the now by sitting quietly in a safe, comfortable location and focusing on the present moment. Think of all the things you are grateful for—no matter how large or small—and allow yourself to truly feel the gratitude in your heart. Look back on the past year while only allowing yourself to visualize the people and things you are grateful for, and set an intention to regularly practice moments of gratitude in the coming year.
Like water off a duck’s back
If you’re ready to shake off the past year and start the new year on higher ground, try this visualization technique to give yourself a fresh start.
When you wake up in the morning, rub your hands over each part of your body in short, downward strokes as if you were a duck oiling your feathers. Imagine all of the negativity that has clung to you in the past dripping off and fading away.
Visualize yourself coating your shiny new feathers with a beautiful, sleek gloss that will repel any negativity that comes your way (just like water running off a duck’s back).
You can repeat this visualization daily upon waking if you find it helpful.
However you choose to celebrate the winter solstice, remember to set intentional goals for self-care in the coming year, practice kindness, and feel gratitude for the gifts in your life. May you and yours be blessed always!
*Consult a medical provider if you are taking any medications or sedatives that these herbs could interfere with.