7 Ways to Survive – and Thrive – In the Dark Part of the Year

It’s hard to believe that we’re already in November. Here in Maine the days are getting shorter and much colder. We’ve had a streak of rainy days and even a bit of snow.

If you’re anything like me, when the calendar turns to November you’re ready to hibernate.

Unfortunately, most of us have lives where we can’t just do a full stop for several months. So how can you survive – and even thrive – when your body wants to curl up in bed? Here are some suggestions:

1. Minimize social obligations.
A lot of times it’s the go-go-go nature of our society that is at odds with wanting to slow down in the darker time of year. Notice that I said “obligations.” If you’re an extrovert who gets recharged by spending time with people, go for it, but choose the events that feel truly fun and joyful to attend. If you’re an introvert, guard your down time with extra vigilance. Picking and choosing when and where to gather with others will feed your need for more quiet time.

2. Take advantage of the light.
Remember that you still need sunshine. Get out for a walk at lunchtime when the sun is shining. Take your vitamin D. You might even want to get a light box, especially if you’re prone to depression and/or Seasonal Affective Disorder. Give your system the light it needs.

3. Get more sleep.
No, really. Chances are there are things in your day that you can either let go of or put off so that you can get more sleep. Rearrange your evening schedule so you’re in bed sooner – with screens put away and perhaps some relaxing music playing. Give your body the extra rest it’s craving.

4. Tap into your creativity.
Fall and winter are a great time for working on creative projects. Allowing yourself to be creative will feed your desire for quiet time while also satisfying your mind’s need to be productive. You might even use your creative time to craft holiday gifts for family and friends. Take on projects that are fun for you.

5. Avoid sugar.
Consuming refined sugar on a regular basis is hard on your system. It can also mess with your emotional stability because of all the sugar highs and crashes. Take a break from sweets or at least minimize your consumption – yes, even during the holiday baking season. Choose wisely. Only eat your homemade favorites occasionally and avoid the easily-available junk treats.

6. Do some deep visioning.
Another thing that this time of year is perfect for is visioning. As you turn inward, reflect on your goals for the coming year and how you want to feel. Make a vision board, write your heart’s desires in your journal and put the associated action steps in your calendar for 2019. What do you really want? How can you start along the path to achieving it? It’s time to dream big.

7. Be kind to yourself.
Cut yourself some slack, here. It’s the dark time of year. If you don’t get as much done as you usually do, so what? If your inner critic starts to act up, tell it “Thanks for sharing.” and then let it go. Choose some extra-nourishing things to do for yourself: make and eat some delicious soup, dive into a new novel for TV series, light candles or get a massage.

Like it or not, we’re mammals and seasonal changes will affect how we feel. Taking this into account will allow you to work with the seasons rather than fight against them.

It’s okay to take life at a slower pace. Try some of these tips and let yourself be nurtured this autumn.

Nikki Starcat Shields is an author, writing coach and leader of transformational writing retreats. She's also a licensed Pagan priestess. She invites you to a process of unfolding creativity. The world needs your unique wisdom - now is the time to finally take your inspired book idea and bring it forth into the world. Learn more at NikkiStarcatShields.com.

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