8 ways to embrace the winter darkness


Somehow I always find when there is difficulty and loss that the winter darkness seems to make this magnified. My grief or pain that has been experienced earlier in the year suddenly creeps up out of nowhere. Darkness heightens our sense of loss, but it also covers our hurt and enfolds it. In the pain and suffering times, when we are in the dark. We must stop and rest. For when we rest our weary souls, we will find that the little glimmers of light sparkle more brightly.

When we stop, we are freed to be a new version of ourselves. We are free to go back to something we enjoyed from our past. We are free to pursue something new and different. We are free to simply be.

In the dark, we need to look into our souls to find others in alignment with us. Sometimes the bright shining sun gives us a false sense of happiness. The smiles that we paste on even when we are in pain. When we are in the dark, we can’t see smiles but we can hear voices more clearly. How are you listening to your own voice and others?

If you are struggling with winter darkness or the darkness of difficult passages of life, here are some tips that I have found to be helpful to me:

  1. Rest -When it is dark, we can more easily rest and go to sleep. So, don’t forget to take that chance to get more sleep than you normally do. Animals naturally do this (think of bears hibernating in winter). I found when I have chosen to rest more during the winter months because of an injury, that I don't mind the darkness as much. It instead becomes a partner in the healing process. So, I have to remember to also rest proactively - so that I don't get injured and sick so easily.

  2. Pain Relief — when we take the chance to rest, it’s a natural form of pain relief. If we stop covering up our grief and our problems and instead tune in and listen to what they have to say, both physical and psychological problems can bring new insights.

  3. Don’t take the pain killers (or try to take less)- In modern society, we have been trained to never stop and never take care of ourselves. We have been told to not question why something is happening to us, only to cover up the symptoms with a pill. Pain killers seem to be much more needed when you have to work hard and never get a break. If you can instead rest or switch activities or stop to see what was causing so much pain, you might not need so much of the pain killers. And when we really explore and allow our emotions — physical pain can be lessened. Sometimes physical pain is a symptom of internal or emotional issues that we are not taking care of. So, make sure to find people to help you through and discover what is making you struggle.

  4. Cleaning — When you struggle with getting things done, take the pressure off yourself to innovate or strategize or check off something on your work to-do list. (Obviously, if you are injured physically, then maybe getting others to help with cleaning will be better.) But, if you are feeling physically up for it, but emotionally struggling this is a good time to clean. Take a little time to simply declutter and clean your space. It seems counterintuitive when we are stressed and feeling pressured to get everything done on a certain timeline. But, sometimes by stopping to organize and clean, it helps clear our emotional space also and make us feel good about something we accomplished. I also find as a parent that it helps create less stress when my child is at home.

  5. Candles — there is subtle, calm energy about lighting candles or lighting a fire in the fireplace and being cozy. The candlelight has a calm effect and can bring us more in tune with nature. I find in the winter darkness, I pay more attention to my eating and to the people at the table when we light candles at dinner time. It also gives me a feeling that we should be quieter and have calm conversations while eating.

  6. Appreciate the light- When you have moments of new energy and inspiration from others that bring light into your situation, appreciate and celebrate this.

  7. Nature- when you can’t socialize with others, take time to socialize with the trees and the animals outside. Notice what birds and trees can be visible from your window. Take time with your eyes to follow the squirrel as it runs around your yard or the birds as they light on your trees. Take walks outside and breathe in the fresh air and get outside in the sunlight when the sun is up.

  8. Humming and singing can allow for the release of our emotions and can also calm us down. A self-created sound is also a powerful form of pain relief, so the next time you are struggling in the darkness or in pain, take time to create music.

Share with me your tips for getting through the darkness and difficult moments of life. When we come together in community, we all rise.