Holidays Are Here Again: A Season of Joy, Stress, Grief and the Common Cold

While we welcome this season of joy and light, may we also acknowledge and welcome their shadow partners of grief and darkness.  This is life’s yin/yang balance. My husband summarizes our human experience as ” joy, pain, sunshine and rain” … or maybe it was the Dalai Lama.

For many the holidays are full of good cheer, Hannukah lights, Christmas decorations, social gatherings and more sweets than we can imagine (January Cleanse anyone?! It starts January 7th, 2015!).

For others, the holidays are not so easy.  Many of us will be remembering those who have passed on, or who are suffering, which brings up a mix of sadness and loss. We may be over-spending, or over-committing.  We may feel isolated and alone this time of year too.

As a clinician, I anticipate the increase in respiratory challenges, not only because it is winter and we are hugging, sneezing, eating more sugar than usual and maybe could do more handwashing…

… but because stress, worry, grief, and rushing about, not only raise our cortisol, but depress our immunity. 

Traditional Chinese Medicine philosophy explains that grief impacts the robust health of our lung energy, and that worry + overthinking depresses the spleen energy. The lung and spleen together form our “wei qi”, or immune-surveilling responsiveness.

Several years ago while working with the Zen Hospice of San Francisco I met a young woman whose mother was there to die. This young lady was suffering from a stubborn cough following a head cold several weeks earlier.  The grief she carried was causing her delayed return to full health.  By providing acupuncture, recommending meditation, a customized herbal formula and that she bake some Asian pears with ginger + mulberries to restore her lung health, her health was rapidly restored.

Louise Hay invites us to imagine ourselves at a banquet, where instead of dishes of food, there are dishes of thoughts, and you get to choose any and all thoughts you wish.  These thoughts create our future experience. May we embrace the multiplicity of emotions brought up in the holiday season, by slowing down, feeling what bubbles up, seeking comfort in community or a bath, lighting a candle, spending time in nature, pausing for an acupuncture treatment … and remembering that darkness is always followed by the light.

Wishing you a happy, healthy, holiday season & Solstice … which marks the dawning of more light.

Namaste and Good Wishes to You.

~ Debra Sue