Traditional Wisdom

Slow Down This Holiday Season

TIMEDecember 9, 2021

With Thanksgiving behind us, the holiday season has officially begun.  What should be a joyous and revitalizing time of year actually makes many people cringe with the thought of endless shopping, meaningless events to attend, obligations, and a feeling of being overwhelmed.

The commercialization and craziness of the holidays are certainly one reason we feel stressed out during this time of the year.  There is another reason many of us struggle with the holidays, and we have to look to Chinese medicine and the theory of Yin and Yang to understand it.

The concept of Yin and Yang is a way of describing the world around us.  Yang represents things that are sunny, light, warm, and active.  In contrast Yin describes things that are relatively cooler, darker, rejuvenating, and nourishing.

The winter solstice on December 21 is the most Yin day of the year, in that the solstice has the shortest amount of daylight and heralds the beginning of winter, which is cool (well, cold here in MN), dark, and nourishing.  Like animals that hibernate during winter, our bodies want to slow down, try to stay warm, drink eggnog, and put on a few pounds–all physically nourishing, Yin activities.

At a time of the year when our bodies naturally want to slow down and rejuvenate, we are busy doing just the opposite.  Many of the things we do in conjunction with the holidays are Yang in nature, in that they are outward and active, such as entertaining, shopping, partying, and decorating.  Being overly busy can make us feel out of harmony with the natural flow of this Yin time of year.  No wonder we feel so overwhelmed!

So what can you do to feel more in harmony with the holidays this season?  Slow down! Try spending time with those people you really care about and skip the giant parties, incorporate traditions into your holidays that nourish your soul, and instead of running around huge shopping malls trying to cross items off your list, give thoughtful and creative gifts to those people you care about.

Give it a try!

Lynn Jaffee
Lynn Jaffee is a licensed acupuncturist and the author of “Simple Steps: The Chinese Way to Better Health.” This article was originally published on